Deadly Movie Theater Shooting in Louisiana
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A lone gunman sitting in a packed movie theater stood up about 20 minutes into the showing of "Trainwreck" and began firing into the crowd, killing two and injuring at least seven others Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.
The gunman initially tried escaping by blending into the fleeing crowd, but then turned back when he saw police heading inside from the parking lot, authorities said. Officers tailing him back into the theater then heard a single gunshot and found him dead inside, police said.
They described the shooter as a 58-year-old "lone white male" with a "criminal history" but did not immediately disclose his name. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the gunman was by himself and started the rampage by shooting the two people sitting in front of him.
At least one theatergoer described the attack, saying an older white man stood up about 20 minutes into the 7:10 p.m. showing of the movie "Trainwreck" at the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette and began shooting.
"We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker," Katie Domingue told The Louisiana Advertiser.
"He wasn't saying anything. I didn't hear anybody screaming either," said Domingue, who added that she heard about six shots before she and her fiance ran to the nearest exit, leaving behind her shoes and purse.
Stories of heroism immediately began to emerge with presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal, who traveled to the scene within hours of the shooting, telling reporters that a teacher who was in the theater jumped in front of a second teacher, saving her life. The second teacher then managed to pull a fire alarm to alert other moviegoers, he said.
"Her friend literally jumped over her and, by her account, actually saved her life," Jindal said.
The shooting took place a week after the man who shot and killed 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colo., was convicted and on the very day a jury said his attack was cruel enough to consider sentencing him to death.
Seven people ranging in age from their late teens to their late 60s were injured, Craft said. Craft said at a news conference that police know who the gunman is, and that he had a "criminal history," but they are not immediately releasing his name. State police superintendent Col. Michael D. Edmonson said the body of the shooter and "at least one other person" were still inside the theater. He said there were about 100 people inside the theater at the time of the shooting.
Edmonson added that police believe the gunman fired shots only at the theater and had not waged an attack anywhere else beforehand. However, authorities said they were not releasing his name immediately in part so police could safely track down and interview friends or family who knew the shooter.