A gunman seated inside a Louisiana movie theater opened fire last night, killing two people and injuring nine more before turning the gun on himself.
John Russel Houser, a 59-year-old drifter from Phenix City, Alabama, started shooting around 20 minutes into a 7pm showing of the movie Trainwreck at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette, police said.
Mayci Breaux, a 22-year-old student, and Jillian Johnson, 33, have been identified as the victims.
After Houser, pictured above, shot two people sitting in front of him, other movie-goers began fleeing and he attempted to get lost in the crowd, police said. But there were officers in the parking lot.
"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," Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters early on Friday. "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.
Nine people, aged from their late teens to their 60s, are in hospital following the incident. Their conditions range from non-life-threatening to critical, Craft said.
"At this point we have three dead, nine wounded and of the three dead one is definitely the shooter," he said.
Craft said Houser was "kind of a drifter" who had been staying at a Motel 6 in Lafayette since the beginning of July. He did not appear to have many connections to the area.
Officials found his car nearby and began searching the Motel 6 where he stayed. Craft said wigs and other items used for "disguises" were found in the room. They continue to investigate why he carried out the shooting.
They say around 100 people were in the movie theater at the time and stories of heroism are beginning to emerge from the incident.
In one incident, one teacher jumped in front of the other to shield her from bullets, before the second managed to pull a fire alarm. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called the two teachers heroes for their actions.
Others are giving their prayers to the victims, their loved ones and the city of Lafayette.
Amy Schumer, the star of the movie Trainwreck, which was playing at the time, expressed her sorrow on Twitter on Thursday night.
My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 24, 2015
Donald Trump also shared his thoughts online.
Thoughts & prayers with everyone in Lafayette, Louisiana this evening.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2015
Governor Bobby Jindal added at a news conference: "This is an awful night for Lafayette. This is an awful night for Louisiana. This is an awful night for the United States. But we will get through this."
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