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Police Identify Gunman in US Movie Theater Shooting

  • VOA News

Officials stand by the scene outside the movie theater where a man opened fire on film-goers in Lafayette, Louisiana, July 23, 2015.

Officials stand by the scene outside the movie theater where a man opened fire on film-goers in Lafayette, Louisiana, July 23, 2015.

The gunman who opened fire in a southern U.S. movie theater on Thursday is said to have had a long history of serious anger issues and mental illness.

Police in the town of Lafayette, Louisiana said Friday that 59-year-old John Russel Houser legally bought the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun from a pawn shop which he used to kill two young women and wound nine other people.

About 100 people were in the theater watching the film Trainwreck when the gunman began shooting his fellow movie goers with a handgun.

Lafayette, La., authorities have identified John Russel Houser as the gunman who opened fire in a movie theater, July 23, 2015.

Lafayette, La., authorities have identified John Russel Houser as the gunman who opened fire in a movie theater, July 23, 2015.

"It was apparent that he was intent on shooting and escaping," said Lafayette police chief Jim Craft. "A quick response forced him back into the theater, at which point he killed himself."

There is no word on a possible motive.

U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed on Air Force One by his Homeland Security adviser, Lisa Monaco.

His press secretary, Josh Earnest, said Obama also "directed his team to keep him updated on the investigation and on the status of those injured in the shooting."

"The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the White House, including the President and First Lady, are with the community of Lafayette, Louisiana, especially the families of those who were killed," Earnest said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, center, speaks with the media following a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., July 23, 2015.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, center, speaks with the media following a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., July 23, 2015.

The president said Thursday in a BBC interview just hours before the theater killings that he was frustrated by his failure to pass gun safety laws. He said "the one area where I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws - even in the face of repeated mass killings."

Police were deployed to other area theaters following the shooting as a precaution measure, but there were no more attacks.

A bomb squad was called in to examine a suspicious package in the gunman's car.

Bystanders look on as emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Bystanders look on as emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the shooting was a seemingly random act of violence on families out for a night of entertainment.

One witness told Reuters that when the man began shooting, "He wasn't saying anything. I didn't hear anybody screaming either."

Another movie-goer told CNN that he thought the sound of the gunfire was part of the movie.

"My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana," Trainwreck star Amy Schumer tweeted Thursday night.

Lafayette is located about 90 kilometers southwest of the state capital, Baton Rouge.

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