In a shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday night, at least three people were killed, including the gunman. Several others were injured, with their conditions ranging from non life-threatening to critical, police said. Their age range went from late teens to 60s.
Later on Thursday night, police announced that one victim had been released from the hospital and another was in surgery but “not doing well.” Two of the victims who died have been identified as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux of Franklin, Louisiana and 33-year-old Lafayette resident Jillian Johnson.
The shooting happened during a screening at the Grand 16 Theatre of the comedy “Trainwreck,” according to local media reports. Television station KLFY posted a picture on its website showing multiple police cars outside the theater.
The shooting was first reported at 7:30 p.m. CT, officials said. The lone gunman and one other person were pronounced dead at the scene. A third person died later.
Moviegoer Katie Domingue told the Lafayette Advertiser newspaper that the gunman opened fire about 20 minutes into the movie.
“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” Domingue said. She reported seeing “an older white man” stand up and open fire.
“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Domingue said.
Domingue went on to say she heard about six shots, before she and fiance Joshua Doggett ran towards the nearest exit.
Late Thursday night, police held a news conference saying the gunman was a 58-year-old white male who was a theater patron. Police declined to give his name, although they did say they knew his identity. They went on to explain that he opened fire with a handgun. An estimated 100 people were inside the theater when he started shooting.
As a precaution, police said they had closed other movie theaters in Lafayette, a city of about 124,000.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who tweeted earlier in the evening asking his followers to pray for the victims, also appeared at the late-night news conference. Jindal, a Republican candidate for president, said he was “horrified and shocked,” and thanked emergency crews for their bravery.
“The first responders, the law enforcement community, they ran towards the shots fired. They ran towards danger, not away from it,” Jindal said, adding, “Whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence it makes us both furious and sad at the same time. I think I speak for every mom and dad out there, for every parent out there who wants to just go and hug their kids.”
The shooting happened almost three years to the day of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. On July 22, 2012, James Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Last week a Colorado jury found Holmes guilty of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others. The trial is now in the second phase in which the jury will consider the punishment for Holmes, either life in prison or the death penalty.