Louisiana theater shooting.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
John Russell Houser, the man who opened fire on a movie theater in Lafayette, La., killing two, was known as a right-wing extremist who espoused anti-Semitic ideas.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and individuals involved in them, had Houser’s name on file since 2005, the Associated Press reported. He expressed support for Hitler, anti-Semitic ideas and white power groups.
Houser, 59, on July 23, fired with a semi-automatic handgun on the audience during a showing of the new film “Trainwreck,” killing two moviegoers and injuring nine. As police closed in on him in the theater complex, he shot himself in the head and died.
Houser admired the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political party, describing them in 2014 as “composed of moral people and their ideas as “a legitimate effort to solve problems” and their leaders as “intelligent, well spoken, and exercising good faith,” the Anti-Defamation League reported.
Houser also admired extremist groups and movements, including radical Islamists, according to the ADL. “Yes, I am saluting the fundamentalist Muslims,” he said in January 2015, “They have stood against evil.” He added, in a follow-up post, “They have my complete Christian respect.”
The ADL said in a statement that it is possible that Hauser deliberately chose “Trainwreck” due to writer and star of the movie comedian Amy Schumer, who “has received considerable media attention thanks to the movie and her popular television show, and, given her chosen comedic persona of a sexually free-wheeling woman, as well as her liberal opinions, one could imagine how a disturbed mind like Houser’s could come to focus on the movie as a symbol for all of his dark fantasies about moral decay in America.”
Houser had been in Louisiana since early July, staying in a Motel 6 room, and had visited the theater several times. He purchased the handgun legally at a pawnshop in Alabama.