Theater victims were popular student and outgoing artist

Teachers Hailed as Heroes During Lafayette Theater Shooting

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — One was a popular student studying to be a radiology technician, while the other was an outgoing artist who ran retail boutiques in two Louisiana cities.

The two people slain by a gunman who opened fire Thursday in a crowded Louisiana movie theater, Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux, had promising careers and the love of friends and family.

"They had a face, they had a name. They had a future. It wasn't to die in this theater," said Col. Michael Edmonson, head of Louisiana State Police.

As friends and family tried to make sense of the tragedy, they also shared memories of the two victims. Below are their stories.

Images of memorials for Lafayette shooting victims:

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Louisiana shooting Memorials
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Theater victims were popular student and outgoing artist
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 25: Detailed view of a makeshift memorial outside of a store owned by one of the victims, Jillian Johnson, on July 25, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two people were killed and nine wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser, 59, opened fire in a movie theater, killing himself when police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: A local resident leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial outside of a store owned by one of the victims, Jillian Johnson on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser opend fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: Detailed view of a makeshift memorial in front of a store owned by one of the victims, Jillian Johnson on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser opend fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 23: General view of a makeshift memorial in front of a store owned by one of the victims, Jillian Johnson on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser opend fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: 10 year old Mason Matthews leaves a card at a makeshift memorial outside of a store owned by one of the victims, Jillian Johnson on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two People were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser opend fire in a crowded movie theater. Houser reportedly shot himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
LAFAYETTE, LA - JULY 24: A makeshift memorial is set up outside of a business owned by Jillian Johnson, a victim of the shooting, on July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two people were killed and nine others wounded when a shooter identified as John Russell Houser, 59, opened fire in a movie theatre, killing himself after police arrived. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Outdoor electronic signs in memory of victims are seen July 24, 2015 in Lafayette, Louisiana, following the previous night's deadly shooting. A 'drifter' with anti-government views randomly killed two women in a Louisiana movie theater and then took his own life as police closed in, authorities said. Police said John Houser initially tried to flee after shooting 13 rounds from a single handgun into a crowded cinema in Lafayette, Louisiana Thursday evening. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man attaches a sign outside The Grand Theatre on July 25, 2015 in memory of victims of a nightly deadly shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana on July 23. According to police investigation reports, the suspect used this door. Police said John Houser initially tried to flee after shooting 13 rounds from a single handgun into a crowded cinema in Lafayette, Louisiana Thursday evening. But he turned around and shot himself dead when he saw police officers rushing towards the sound of gunfire.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)
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JILLIAN JOHNSON

Jillian Johnson, 33, was remembered as an all-around "creative force" who ran clothing and art boutiques, played in a rootsy rock band, helped organize a music festival, and used her design skills on t-shirts and other crafts.

Lucius Fontenot met Johnson while both were studying art at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and he later produced an album for her band called The Figs. The band played as recently as July 17 in New Orleans, according to Facebook.

"She just did the things she wanted to do, and nothing could stop her," said Fontenot, 37. "She was a creative force, always inspiring and amazing to watch."

She and her husband, Jason Brown, ran boutiques in Lafayette and New Orleans called Red Arrow Workshop that sold wooden toys, candles and jewelry. The store's website said she was "obsessed" with Fats Waller, Tina Turner and John Steinbeck and that her favorite movie was "Coal Miner's Daughter."

"Our hearts are shattered. We will love you forever. She was a once-in-a-lifetime gal. A mother, daughter, sister and a truly exceptional wife," said a message posted on the store's Facebook page.

Nobody answered the door at the home Johnson shared with her husband, Jason Brown, but there were signs of the tragedy as a delivery truck driver left flowers at the front porch.

"I just can't believe this. Not Jillian. Not Brown. They're good people," said next-door neighbor Nolan Martin Sr., 57.

Martin said Johnson planted fruit trees throughout the neighborhood — peaches, figs and locally grown mandarin oranges called satsumas — so her neighbors and people heading to a nearby homeless shelter could stop for snacks.

"She was trying to beautify the neighborhood, uplift the people around here to take care of their homes," Martin said.

Tyler Thigpen met Johnson in 2011 as part of a team forming a nonprofit focused on local food. Johnson showed her personal commitment by tending a home garden and raising chickens.

"Jillian had this incredible style, passion and talent for things she'd never done before," Thigpen said. "At 33, she's done more for the community than most people do in a lifetime. Her involvement and leadership and contributions are really going to be missed."

In a 2012 interview with The Advertiser, Johnson said the best advice she'd ever been given was to "do good work."

"My dad used to say that to me before I left for school in the morning," Johnson said. "I didn't realize it was totally my lifelong mantra until I was in my 20s."

Images from the Lafayette movie theater shooting:

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Lafayette Louisiana Movie theater shooting
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Theater victims were popular student and outgoing artist
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)
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)
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
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
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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MAYCI BREAUX

Mayci Breaux, 21, was in the first year of an associate's degree program for medical radiology technicians at Louisiana State University-Eunice.

The head of the program, Robert McLaughlin, described her as a sweet, generous person who was always polite and professional.

"She was the kind of person you want in your program," McLaughlin said. "She had a lot of potential. I knew she would do well."

McLaughlin met Mayci Breaux about a year ago as she began taking classes required to apply for the program. McLaughlin said Friday that Breaux's 25 first-year classmates are grieving as they prepared to finish their first semester.

He gave the students an assignment this summer on why they chose to pursue careers as radiographers.

"She always had an interest in the medical field since being a young girl," he said. "It's a different way of thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. She had the knack — it showed in her performance this summer."

The school about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette issued a statement saying that the campus was mourning.

"This was a senseless tragedy and our thoughts are with all of the victims and their families, as well as the entire Lafayette Community," the statement said.

Thea St. Germain has worked with Breaux at the Coco Eros Fashion Boutique in Lafayette for about a year. St. Germain said Breaux was excited about becoming a radiologist and her future with her boyfriend of several years.

Breaux was always cheerful, with a big smile for customers and co-workers, she said.

"Everyone at the store would remember her," St. Germain, 24, said. "She was that kind of person to leave an impression on you."

St. Germain said Breaux's closeness with her family was demonstrated when she brought her mother to the store a couple of weeks ago.

"You could tell how much they loved each other and the respect (Mayci) had for her," she said.


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