Police: 3 dead in movie theater shooting, including gunman

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3 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire at Louisiana Movie Theater

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 wounding at least nine others Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

The gunman initially tried escaping by blending into the fleeing crowd, but 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.

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Police: 3 dead in movie theater shooting, including gunman
A police officer directs journalists on July 25, 2015 around the crime scene outside The Grand Theatre on July 25, 2015 after the deadly July 23 shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. The troubled 'drifter' who randomly killed two women in the Louisiana movie theater and then took his own life has emerged as an anti-government extremist who owned a legally-purchased firearm. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer directs journalists on July 25, 2015 around the crime scene outside The Grand Theatre on July 25, 2015 after deadly the July 23 shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. The troubled 'drifter' who randomly killed two women in the Louisiana movie theater and then took his own life has emerged as an anti-government extremist who owned a legally-purchased firearm. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Memorial flowers are placed outside of The Grand 16 theater after a deadly shooting at the Grand 16 theatre, Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Lafayette, La. John Russell Houser stood up about 20 minutes into Thursday night's showing of "Trainwreck" and fired on the audience with a semi-automatic handgun. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Map locates Grand Theater, Lafayette, La.
This undated photo provided by the Lafayette Police Department shows John Russell Houser, in Lafayette, La. Authorities have identified Houser as the gunman who opened fire in a movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette. (Lafayette Police Department via AP)
Timeline shows key events in John Russell Houser's life (Courtesy AP)
Police officers stand in front of The Grand Theatre on July 25, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. The troubled 'drifter' who randomly killed two women in the Louisiana movie theater and then took his own life has emerged as an anti-government extremist who owned a legally-purchased firearm. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers are placed outside The Grand Theatre on July 25, 2015 in memory of victims of a July 23, 2015 deadly shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. The troubled 'drifter' who randomly killed two women in the Louisiana movie theater and then took his own life has emerged as an anti-government extremist who owned a legally-purchased firearm. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: Col. Mike Edmondson, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, walks to the podium to speak with the media on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russel Houser opened fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: General view of the Grand Theatre on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russel Houser opened fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: A picture of the shooter, John Russel Houser, seen in a media vehicle away from the press conference on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russel Houser opened fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: Mourners stand outside of the Grand Theatre on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russel Houser opened fire in a crowded movie theater.Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Graphic locates site of movie theater shooting in Louisiana
A Lafayette Police Department vehicle blocks an entrance at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., following a shooting, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
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. (AP Photo/Denny Culbert)
Law enforcement personnel stand near a police line at The Grand Theatre following a deadly shooting inLafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
These Are The Victims Of The Lafayette Movie Theater Shooting http://t.co/0OFwYKENoE http://t.co/oR6eWK6kqh
What we know about #LafayetteShooting gunman John Russel Houser--wigs, weapon, and more: http://t.co/rl9Z6QsRFu http://t.co/2ZgvlIMJxQ
Police tape marls off the area of a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Denny Culbert)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks with the media as he provides an update on the deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft addresses the media early, Friday, July 24, 2015, in Lafayette, La., as he provides an update on a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre from the night before. (Paul Kieu'/The Daily Advertiser via AP) 
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 23: Lafayette police stand outside of the Grand Theater on July 23, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Three people are dead and seven more injured after a gunman opened fire inside the Grand Theatre. The gunman, whose identity is being withheld by police, is among the dead. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
:: Police seek info on suspected Louisiana theater shooter. Call (337) 291-8650 if you know John Russel Houser. http://t.co/DMpuHE1dkB
Law enforcement personnel stand in the parking lot of The Grand Theatre early Friday, July 24, 2015, in Lafayette, La., as they investigate a shooting from the night before. (Paul Kieu'The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Federal investigators respond to the scene of a shooting at the Grand Theatre on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette, La. (AP Photo/Denny Culbert)
Col. Mike Edmondson, center, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, speaks with the media as he provides an update on the deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft, right, and Dee Stanley, left, chief administrative officer of the Lafayette Consolidated Government, listen. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks with the media following a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Denny Culbert)
Lafayette Police Department and Louisiana State Police units block an entrance road following a shooting at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Bystanders embrace outside the Grand Theatre as emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Denny Culbert)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, center, delivers a statement following a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre inLafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Paul Kieu/The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft addresses the media early, Friday, July 24, 2015, in Lafayette, La., as he provides an update on a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre from the night before. (Paul Kieu'The Daily Advertiser via AP)
Police tape surrounds the scene following a shooting at a movie theater Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette, La. (Treylan Arceneaux via AP)
Gov. Bobby Jindal is at Lafayette General. He hugs Sue Vidrine and says sorry for your loss. http://t.co/Wryp8U1q9S
My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.
Thoughts & prayers w/ victims, friends & families of all involved in movie theatre shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. http://t.co/BB2mId5OxM
BREAKING: Shooting reported at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. http://t.co/ZZI3WzfeUP http://t.co/vSFrVVRd7E
KATC ABC News: Photo from outside reported shooting at The Grand in Lafayette, Louisiana http://t.co/eDCF3p4TyZ
LIVE on #Periscope: Shooting scene at Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater https://t.co/KZNT4gfmHG
I'm on my way to Lafayette right now. Please say a prayer for the victims at Grand Theatre and their families.
#Breaking: Police in Lafayette, Louisiana, say there's been a shooting; "multiple victims" http://t.co/mbYmv1XNXt http://t.co/OGouTkXvUz
Lafayette police official on theater shooting: Still working to confirm number of fatalities. FBI, ATF are on scene http://t.co/8uOTN7wInm
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At least one theatergoer described the attack, saying an older 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 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.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, while on his way to Africa for a two-nation visit, the White House said.

Obama asked his team to keep him updated on the investigation and the status of those wounded. He also offered his thoughts and prayers to the community and to the families of those killed.

The shooting took place a week after the man who shot and killed 12 people at a movie 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.

Nine people ranging in age from their late teens to their late 60s were wounded, Craft said. At least one of those was in critical condition and being operated on at an area hospital, he said. The conditions of the others were not immediately known.

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.

"We have no reason to believe that this individual acted beyond this location here," Edmonson said.

He said police saw something suspicious inside the shooter's car and that a bomb-sniffing dog "hit on three different locations" in the vehicle, "so out of an abundance of caution we brought in the bomb squad."

No explosives were found in the car or in the theater complex.

"Trainwreck" star Amy Schumer sent a tweet: "My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana." The comedy stars Schumer as a magazine writer who decides to live a life of promiscuity after her father convinces her that monogamy isn't realistic, but in spite of her best efforts, finds herself falling in love with one of her interview subjects.

Gov. Jindal called the shooting "an awful night for Louisiana."

"What we can do now is we can pray," Jindal said. "We can hug these families. We can shower them with love, thoughts and prayers."

Lafayette is about 60 miles west of the state capital of Baton Rouge. Outside the movie theater complex hours after the shooting, a couple of dozen police cars were still at the scene, which authorities had cordoned off with police tape as onlookers took photos with their cellphones.

A small group of theater employees stood outside the police perimeter. A man who identified himself as a general manager declined to be interviewed: "We would appreciate it if you could give us some space," he said.

Landry Gbery (pronounced Berry), 26, of Lafayette, was watching a different movie, "Self/less" at the time of the shooting when the lights came up and a voice over the intercom told everyone there was an emergency and they needed to leave.

Gbery said he never heard gunshots, and assumed the emergency was a fire until he got outside and saw a woman lying on the ground.

"I was really anxious for everybody at that point," Gbery said. "Fortunately I was lucky. I took the right exit."

Tanya Clark was at the concession stand in the lobby when she saw people screaming and running past her. She said she immediately grabbed her 5-year-old daughter and ran.

"In that moment, you don't think about anything," Clark, 36, told The New York Times. "That's when you realize that your wallet and phone are not important."

Clark's son Robert Martinez said he saw an older woman run past with blood streaming down her leg, and screaming that someone had shot her.

The Louisiana shooting occurred three years after James Holmes entered a crowded movie theater in suburban Denver and opened fire during the premier of a Batman film, killing 12 people and wounding 70 others.

A jury last week quickly convicted Holmes on 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges, rejecting defense arguments that he was insane and suffering delusions that drove him to the July 20, 2012, attack.

Prosecutors said Holmes planned and carried out the massacre to assuage the pain of his failures in graduate school and in romance. Defense lawyers said schizophrenia had been growing inside Holmes' mind for years and eventually overwhelmed him, creating a delusion that he could improve his self-worth by killing others and absorbing their value.

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