UPDATE: On Friday at a press conference, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft identified the movie theater shooter as John Russell Houser. The 59-year-old white male was described as “kind of a drifter” by Craft, who said Houser had been living in Lafayette, Louisiana since earlier this month.
According to police, wigs and disguises were found in Houser’s dwelling, and his car — which was parked outside an exit door at the theater — had a switched license plate on it.
“It is apparent that he was intent on shooting and then escaping. What happened is that the quick law enforcement response forced him back into the theater, at which time he shot himself,” Craft said.
Houser fired 13 rounds in the theater from a 40-caliber handgun (which was recovered), killing two people and injuring nine others.
Police identified the deceased victims as Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33. Of the nine injured victims, two have been released from the hospital thus far. One victim remains in critical condition at this time.
“The quick response by law enforcement is believed to have prevented further deaths,” Craft said.
EARLIER: A gunman opened fire at a movie theater Thursday night in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing two people before turning the weapon on himself, according to police.
Up to 10 people have been hospitalized with injuries, said Sgt. Brooks David, spokesman for the Louisiana State Police.
David said the shooter is a 58-year-old white male, but police are not releasing his identity.
“We don’t want to affect the integrity or the investigators’ ability to do their jobs and get information on the shooter,” Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said in a press conference late Thursday.
Authorities say the gunman initially tried to escape by blending in with the fleeing crowd, but turned back when he saw police heading inside from the parking lot, the Associated Press reports. Officers tailing him back into the theater then heard a single gunshot and found him dead inside, police said.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters Thursday night that a teacher who was in the theater jumped in front of a second teacher, saving her life, the AP adds. He also said that second teacher then managed to pull a fire alarm to alert other moviegoers.
The news was reported earlier by Lafayette’s Daily Advertiser newspaper. According to the publication, the shooting occurred at The Grande Theatre in Lafayette about 20 minutes into a 7 p.m. screening of Amy Schumer’s R-rated comedy Trainwreck.
Four police officers entered the theater to engage the shooter, Craft said, but he had already died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Craft said police were stationed at other movie theaters around the city “out of an abundance of caution.”
Schumer tweeted her condolences late Thursday, writing, “My heart is broken, and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”
The Lafayette shooting comes the same day that jurors said they would consider the death penalty for James Holmes, the man convicted last month in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that left 12 people dead. The sentencing phase of Holmes’ trial began Wednesday.