The Latest: Office that tracks hate groups knew of La. movie shooter

This undated photo provided by the Lafayette Police Department shows John Russel Houser, in Lafayette, La. Authorities have identified Houser as the gunman who opened fire in a movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette. (Lafayette Police Department via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Lafayette Police Department shows John Russel Houser, in Lafayette, La. Authorities have identified Houser as the gunman who opened fire in a movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette. (Lafayette Police Department via AP)

3:45 p.m.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it has had John Russell Houser’s name in its files since 2005, when he registered at former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization conference.

In online forums, Houser wrote of the “power of the lone wolf” and expressed interest in white power groups, anti-Semitic ideas and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which protests soldiers’ funerals, the center said.

“Hitler is loved for the results of his pragmatism,” Houser wrote in January on the website “There is no question of his being the most successful that ever lived. At this time the US is no more than a financially failing filth farm. Soon the phrase ‘ruling with an iron hand’ will be palatable anew.”

In another post on the Golden Dawn website, he said: “It is a shame Tim McVeigh is not going to be with us to enjoy the hilarity of turning the tables with an IRON HAND.”


3 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has ordered that flags at state government buildings be flown at half-staff in a show of respect for victims of a shooting in a Lafayette movie theater.

Jindal issued the executive order Friday requiring that flags remain at half-staff until July 31.

A gunman killed two people and wounded nine before shooting himself to death as police responded to Thursday night’s shooting at the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette.



An Alabama sheriff says the gunman in the movie theater shooting was once refused a concealed weapons permit.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Friday that John Russell Houser lived in Phenix City, Alabama, off and on from 2005-14. Taylor said officials received a domestic violence complaint against Houser in 2005, but the victim didn’t want to prosecute.

The sheriff says Houser applied for a concealed weapons permit in 2006, but it was refused because of the domestic violence complaint and a previous arrest for arson in nearby Columbus, Georgia.

Taylor says Houser was evicted from his Phenix City home in 2014, but later returned and caused some damage, including pouring concrete in plumbing pipes and tampering with a gas line.

“That was dangerous and could’ve been extremely dangerous,” Taylor said.

Houser killed two women and wounded nine others in Louisiana on Thursday night.


1:15 p.m.

Hospital officials say three people shot at a Louisiana movie theater are now in stable condition.

David Callecod, president of Lafayette General Health, says one of those patients required surgery. Another was in intensive care. Two other people were treated and released Thursday night.

Callecod says all five people treated at the hospital had gunshot wounds. Three of them were classified as “level one” trauma, meaning they had been shot either in the head, neck, torso, knee or elbow.

Police say 59-year-old John Russell Houser opened fire in the movie theater Thursday night, killing two people.


1 p.m.

The two women killed by a gunman at a crowded Louisiana movie theater were described as a popular student studying to be a radiology technician and an outgoing artist who ran retail boutiques in two Louisiana cities.

Jillian Johnson, 33, was remembered as an all-around “creative force” who ran clothing and art boutiques, played in a rootsy rock band, helped organize a music festival and used her design skills on T-shirts and other crafts.

“She just did the things she wanted to do, and nothing could stop her,” said friend Lucius Fontenot.” She was a creative force, always inspiring and amazing to watch.”

Mayci Breaux, 21, was in the first year of an associate’s degree program for medical radiology technicians at Louisiana State University-Eunice.

The head of the program, Robert McLaughlin, described her as a sweet, generous person who was always polite and professional.

“She was the kind of person you want in your program,” McLaughlin said. “She had a lot of potential. I knew she would do well.”

The school about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette issued a statement saying that the campus was mourning.

“This was a senseless tragedy and our thoughts are with all of the victims and their families, as well as the entire Lafayette Community,” the statement said.


12 p.m.

Authorities say the gunman in the movie theater slayings was armed with a semi-automatic .40-caliber handgun and had one additional magazine.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said Friday that they found at least 13 shell casings inside the theater that was showing “Trainwreck” on Thursday night. Craft says the gunman opened fire and then apparently tried to leave the theater. He dropped a magazine in the lobby, reloaded and then returned to the theater room. He fired one shot, killing himself.

Authorities are investigating whether the gun was bought legally and whether it was purchased by the gunman, John Russell Houser.

Authorities say Houser killed two women and wounded nine others before killing himself at a movie theater.


11:10 a.m.

A former local television host in Georgia says the man who killed two people in a Louisiana movie theater appeared on his show numerous times in the early 1990s and advocated violence against people involved in abortions.

Calvin Floyd, who hosted a morning call-in show on WLTZ-TV in Columbus, Georgia, says John Russell Houser also espoused other radical views, including his opposition to women in the workplace. Floyd, now 71, says he would put Houser on with a Democrat because “he could make the phones ring.”

Floyd described Houser, as an “angry man” who made “wild accusations” about all sorts of local officials and topics.

Police say Houser opened fire during a screening of “Trainwreck” in Lafayette, killing two people as several hundred people in the movie complex fled.


11 a.m.

Police say they are looking at online postings they believed to have been written by the movie theater gunman, John Russell Houser.

State police superintendent Col. Michael D. Edmonson said Friday that they are trying to find out more about the gunman.

Authorities say Houser opened fire inside a movie theater on Thursday night, killing two people and wounding nine others before he killed himself.

Authorities say there were about 300 people at the movie theater at the time of the shooting and 25 tickets were sold for “Trainwreck,” the movie where the shooting took place.

Police say the gunman had one additional magazine for his handgun.


10:45 a.m.

The theater gunman in Louisiana had received an accounting degree and a law degree.

Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga., said the gunman, John Russell Houser, earned an accounting degree from there in 1988.

Pat Gregory, a spokesman for Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., said Houser enrolled in the college’s law school in 1994 and graduated in 1998, but the Alabama State Bar said it did not have record of House ever applying to take the bar exam.

Authorities say Houser stood up in a movie theater on Thursday night and fatally shot two women. He wounded nine other people before killing himself.


10:30 a.m.

Court documents from 2008 say family members of the theater shooter petitioned the probate court to have him involuntarily committed “because he was a danger to himself and others.”

A judge issued the order, and John Russell Houser was taken to a hospital in Columbus, Georgia.

While he was at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office awaiting transfer to the hospital, Houser said to his wife that once he got out of the hospital, “he would continue his erratic as well as threatening behavior” to try to stop his daughter’s wedding, the filing said.

Authorities say Houser stood up in a theater in Louisiana and fatally shot two people and wounded nine others before killing himself.


10 a.m.

The wife and other family members of the Louisiana theater gunman asked for a temporary protective order in 2008 against the man.

Court documents seeking the order said John Russell Houser, “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements.”

The documents said even though he lived in Phenix City, Alabama, he had come to Carroll County, Georgia, where they lived and “perpetrated various acts of family violence.”

Houser “has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder” the filing said.

The filing says Houser’s wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, “has become so worried about the defendant’s volatile mental state that she has removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.”

The protection order was at least temporarily granted.

She filed for divorce in March.


9 a.m.

The father of a woman in the theater at the time of the shooting says his daughter was sitting with a friend in the same row as the shooter.

“They heard a couple of pops and didn’t know what it was,” Randall Mann said. “And then they saw the muzzle flashes, and that’s when they knew what was going on. She hit the floor immediately.”

Randall Mann said his daughter Emily and her friend escaped uninjured.

“She’s traumatized,” he said.

The gunman killed two woman and wounded nine other people before he killed himself Thursday night.


8:35 a.m.

Police and court records show the Louisiana movie theater gunman has been arrested and ticketed for several offenses in the past, ranging from arson to speeding.

Police officials said at a news conference Friday that 59-year-old John Russell Houser’s arrests date 10 to 15 years ago or more. Those include charges of arson and selling alcohol to a minor. He had been married once in the past but was not currently married.

In Alabama, records show Houser had four speeding tickets and one no-seatbelt ticket between 1981 and 2003.

Alabama court records show Houser filed a small claims court lawsuit in 2004 claiming he was injured when he donated plasma at a Phenix City donation center. He asked for $1,800 to pay his emergency room bill and for a narcotics prescription. The case was settled, according to court records.


8:30 a.m.

A 19-year-old college student who was watching a movie in a theater across the hall from the shooting says he heard three loud pops before the lights came on.

Jacob Broussard said Friday that he didn’t initially know there was a shooting, but as he was evacuating the theater, he saw a woman who had been shot in the leg.

Authorities say a gunman stood up about 20 minutes into the movie and started firing, killing two women and wounding nine others.

Broussard, a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, says he felt lucky.

His father, Shannon Broussard, described gratitude for a teacher who apparently pulled the fire alarm to alert theatergoers that they needed to evacuate the building.


8:10 a.m.

The two victims who were killed when a gunman opened fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater have been identified as 33-year-old Jillian Johnson and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux.

The gunman, who authorities identified as 59-year-old John Russell Houser, killed himself after trying to flee the scene.

Nine others were wounded in the Thursday night shooting that happened during a showing of the comedy “Trainwreck.”


7:20 a.m.

Authorities are describing the gunman in the movie theater shooting as a 59-year-old man who previously lived in Alabama but is “kind of a drifter” who had been in the Lafayette area since early July.

Police said Friday that the gunman fired a handgun 13 times inside the theater, killing two people and wounding at least nine others before fatally shooting himself.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the gunman parked his car near the theater’s exit door and was intent on escaping, but couldn’t because police arrived so quickly.

Authorities have not determined a motive. They searched a motel room he had been staying in and found wigs and other disguises.


5:15 a.m.

About a dozen law enforcement personnel were gathered at a Motel 6 in Lafayette early Friday as authorities investigate a shooting at movie theater that killed three people, including the gunman.

Louisiana State Police spokesman Maj. Doug Cain said the theater investigation led them to a room at the Motel 6. Cain said authorities were investigating whether the shooter had stayed there. He said the bomb squad swept the room before going in as a precaution.

About a dozen police personnel could be seen outside the motel. At one point, an officer carried out a cardboard box from the room and other officers could be seen knocking on neighboring doors.


3:50 a.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting at a Louisiana movie theater that left three people dead, including the gunman.

Obama was briefed aboard Air Force One on Thursday by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, while on his way to Africa for a two-nation visit.

Obama asked his team to keep him updated on the investigation and the status of those wounded in the shooting.

He also offered his thoughts and prayers to the community of Lafayette, Louisiana, where the movie theater is located, and to the families of those who were killed.


3:30 a.m.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that nine people in total were wounded in the shooting.

He said at least one of those was in critical condition and being operated on at an area hospital.

“At this point we have three dead, nine wounded and of the three dead one is definitely the shooter,” he said.


2:30 a.m.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that based on the investigation so far, they believe the shooter stood up in the theater, started shooting, and then as people started fleeing, he began to leave as well.

But, investigators believe, he spotted two police officers, who had been out in the parking lot when the shooting happened. The shooter then turned around against the crowd before firing a single shot.

“It looks like he spotted the officers coming in and he turned around and he went against the crowd, and he fired a single gunshot,” he said. “He was seated in the theater just like everybody else.”

“The information we have at this time indicates that he was by himself, sat by himself and the first two people he shot were sitting right in front of him,” Craft said.


1:10 a.m.

Police say they are checking out suspicious packages inside the Lafayette movie theater where a gunman opened fire Thursday.

Sgt. Brooks David of the Louisiana State Police said a dog alerted to a backpack and other small items in the theater.

Three people were killed, including the gunman, and seven injured in the shooting.

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