Last night’s tragic mass-shooting spree in a Louisiana movie theater ended with the suicide of the gunman, 59-year-old drifter John Russell Houser, but that was not his original plan. Houser staged disguises in his hotel room and had switched plates on his vehicle, which he parked right outside an exit door of the Lafayette theater. Did he plan to escape with the disguises to confound police, and perhaps strike again? Police believe so, but a quick police response — in part thanks to two of the wounded — confounded the shooter:
Police said the shooter, from Phenix City, Alabama, had been staying in a local Motel 6 in recent weeks but there was no indication yet what drove him to carry out the killings.
They found wigs, glasses, and disguises in his room and his vehicle had a switched license plate on it.
Survivors scrambled for the exits but the Houser left behind “a pretty horrific scene” before shooting himself, Craft added.
NBC’s Today show offered an update today on the story, including the description of two wounded teachers who managed to set off the fire alarm, which may have limited Houser’s spree. Jena Meaux and Ali Martin are being hailed as heroes today:
The two who died were the closest targets to Houser, sitting directly in front on him. Macy Breaux and Jillian Johnson died almost immediately. Other than Houser they are the only two at this time to have died in the incident. One victim, as Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft announced, remains in critical condition, but two have already been released from the hospital.
Keep all of the victims and their families in prayer today.