Slava Novorossiya

Slava Novorossiya

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Police work outside of the Grand Theatre after the shooting. (Getty)

2015 Lafayette shooting
3141 Johnston Street, Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.
July 23, 2015
7:27 p.m. (CDT)
Attack type
3 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
John Russell Houser
Under investigation

On July 23, 2015, a shooting occurred at the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. John Russell Houser, age 59, opened fire during a showing of the film Trainwreck, killing two people and injuring nine others before committing suicide.


The shooting occurred in theater 14 during the 7:10 p.m. screening of Trainwreck, held at the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette, just 60 miles (97 km) west of Baton Rouge. Houser, 59, went to the theater alone, bought a ticket ten minutes late into the movie, and sat for several minutes in the theater's second-to-last row. Including Houser, there were 25 people in the theater and 300 people in the building. Houser was armed with a Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun and equipped with two 10-round magazines. Shortly before 7:30 p.m., he stood up, pulled out the handgun from his pants, and started shooting indiscriminately while walking down the steps. Houser fired at least 13 rounds and reloaded once. He killed two people and injured nine others.

The first two people he shot were sitting right in front of him. The shooting was contained to one theater. After the shooting ended, Houser exited the theater through a side door and apparently tried to head for his vehicle while blending in with survivors. However, upon noticing police sirens, he retreated back inside the building and fired three more shots at fleeing moviegoers. Then, he committed suicide.

Prior to the shooting, two police officers were already on duty at the 16-screen multiplex. Four other officers responded to the scene in less than a minute after receiving a 7:28 p.m. report of the shooting. After witnessing audiences fleeing and hearing gunshots, they made their way into the auditorium. Upon entering the theater, two-and-a-half minutes after arrival, they found Houser dead; he had fired a bullet into his mouth. His body remained inside the theater for several hours. After the shooting, it was discovered that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.1, while the legal limit is 0.08.


Following the shooting, the other local Grand Theatre was also closed, while the entire area was locked down as law enforcement officials searched for additional shooters. The Louisiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Lafayette Parish Sheriff, and Lafayette Police Department police participated in the investigation. Police believe the shooter acted alone, but have not confirmed a motive.

Upon investigation, officials found that Houser had been staying in a nearby motel, a Motel 6, and discovered wigs, glasses, and disguises. This led officials to believe that he intended on escaping before being cornered by police, leading to his suicide. Furthermore, he illegally switched his license plates near an exit door to the theater, and in his motel room.

On late Thursday night, the police investigated Houser's car, a blue 1995 Lincoln Continental, and found two suspicious objects with wires inside. Fearing that the items might be an explosive, the police halted the investigation. On the morning of July 24, they called the bomb squad, who blew up its windows and trunk. Similarly, investigators found three objects in the theater that they feared could be explosives and had them examined with a robot. An apartment complex behind the theater was evacuated as a precaution. The objects in the theater and in the car all turned out not to be dangerous. A search of the car later turned up more disguises.

Investigators recovered a 39-page journal belonging to Houser, which contained the name of the theater and the time and date of the screening of Trainwreck, along with random notes and observations. However, the journal did not provide a clear motive behind the shooting. Investigators were also studying posts he made online to determine a motive for the shooting. They finished processing the crime scene at the theater on July 27.

Questions were raised about how Houser was able to obtain the gun used in the shooting. It was initially reported that he had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment in 2008, which would have legally prohibited him from purchasing firearms. However, it was later determined that he was able to purchase the gun because a judge never committed him and instead had him undergo a mental health evaluation. Once the evaluation was done, medical authorities either had to release him, convince him to commit himself voluntarily for treatment, or petition a court to force him to undergo treatment. They never petitioned the court, but it was unclear if Houser was released or voluntarily committed. His 2008 evaluation was never officially reported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The Grand 16 theater was shut down after the shooting. It reopened four months later on November 19, after a ceremony honoring the victims.

On January 13, 2016, police released a 589-page report of the shooting and photos of Houser's motel room.

John Russell Houser was identified as the gunman who attacked movie theater-goers in Louisiana, killing two people and injuring nine others before committing suicide. (LinkedIn)


John Russell "Rusty" Houser (November 22, 1955 – July 23, 2015) had a history of anti-government and far-right views, including those on race, gender, and the future of the U.S.

Mayci Breaux, left, and Jillian Johnson

Two women were killed by Houser in the shooting. One died at the scene, while the other died at a nearby hospital. They are:

Mayci Marie Breaux
September 25, 1993 - July 23, 2015
Lafayette, Louisiana

·         Mayci Breaux, age 21, of Franklin, Louisiana, who died at the theater. She was a student at Louisiana State University Eunice and worked at the Coco Eros boutique. She died from a single gunshot wound. She was accompanied at the theater by her boyfriend, Matthew Rodriguez, who was injured in the neck and in the armpit.

Jillian Johnson
(March 4, 1982 to July 23, 2015)

·         Jillian Johnson, age 33, of Lafayette, who died at the hospital. She operated a gift and toy shop in Lafayette and played ukulele and guitar for a band called The Figs. She died from two gunshot wounds. She was accompanied at the theater by her friend Julia Egedahl, who was injured in the torso and suffered serious fractures.

The injuries of the survivors ranged from light to critical and were inflicted either from gunshots and/or during accidents while fleeing. The victims' ages ranged from the late teens to their 60s. Among the injuries were two women who were friends and employees at a local high school. One of them, a librarian, jumped on top of the second woman, a schoolteacher, to save her life and was shot through the leg. Both women were ultimately shot, but the woman who was jumped on was able to stand up and pull the fire alarm. Also injured were the cousin of Louisiana Representative Charles Boustany and her husband. Egedahl, the last victim discharged, left Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center on August 14. One victim was shot four times.

Responses to the shooting

Political response
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal traveled to the scene of the shooting and said he was praying for the victims. He praised the actions of law enforcement during the shooting.
  • U.S. Senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana both released statements expressing their sorrow for the victims of the shooting, and that they were praying for them.
  • Authorities in Louisiana and Alabama criticized the lack of funding for mental health services in the U.S., following the emergence of Houser's mental problems.
  • Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton stated that she is planning on drafting a bill to the criminal justice committee she serves on, which would require all movie theaters in Louisiana to have a metal detector.
Theater and film response

Amy Schumer, who wrote and starred in the film being shown as the shooting occurred, posted on her Twitter account, "My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana." She later joined U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a cousin of her father's, in calling for stricter gun control and increased mental health funding. Schumer expanded on the shooting and her views on gun control in her best-selling book "The Girl With The Lower-Back Tattoo", where she talked about the two murder victims at length; she referred to the gunman's vile personal views and sickness and did not write his name.

Universal Studios, the film's distributor, also released a statement, saying, "All of us at Universal Pictures send our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of this senseless tragedy and their families in Louisiana."

The theater and its parent company, the Southern Theatres, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Security was increased at the other Grand movie theater in Kenner, Louisiana, and at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner. They later issued a statement, in which they said, "All of us offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the community of Lafayette. We are grateful to all local officials and to the governor for their efforts."

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