Three dead, seven hurt after gunman opened fire in Louisiana movie theater

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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — A man opened fire inside a movie theater in a Lafayette, Louisiana, multiplex, Thursday night, July 23rd — killing two people and wounding seven others — before taking his own life.

The seven injured range in age from late teens to “probably into the 60s,” said Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft. One victim has been released; another is in surgery and is “not doing well,” he said.

The shooter has a criminal history but it dates back several years, Craft said. He didn’t elaborate further.

Authorities located the car of the alleged shooter and spotted “stuff in there that looked suspicious,” Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police. The bomb squad will blow out the the window and the trunk of the vehicle “to make sure nothing’s in there that will cause anybody that will case anyone any harm.” For now, the crime scene processing work has been suspended. After the car is cleared, authorities will then go into the theater where the bodies lie.

“There’s nothing to believe that there was any kind of motive,” said Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police.

The shooter was a 58-year-old white man who was a theater patron, police said. Authorities have his name but are withholding it as the investigation continues.

The shooting took place shortly before 8:30 p.m ET at the Grand Theatre 16 in Lafayette, a city of about 120,000 people, 60 miles west of Baton Rouge.

About 100 people were inside the theater for a screening of the comedy, “Trainwreck,” when the shooter began firing randomly using a handgun, police said.

‘Gunshots after gunshots’

Jalen Fernell said he was in a theater next door.

“I almost thought it was part of the movie at first,” he said of the gunshots.

An alarm went off, followed by an overhead intercom message asking patrons to get out.

“Immediately we get terrified because they are telling us to head out to vehicles,” he said. “It was kinda like a war going on … gunshots after gunshots.”

Paige Bearb, another witness, said she took off running when the alarm sounded.

“I saw people bleeding from the leg, they were shot,” she said. “And I was like ‘Wow.’ It was like a movie itself.”

‘Awful night for the United States’

Four officers entered the theater and found the gunman dead.

“It appears the shooter died from a self inflicted gun shot wound after discharging his weapon numerous times,” said Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft.

The seven injured range in age from late teens to “probably into the 60s,” Craft said. One victim has been released; another is in surgery and is “not doing well,” he said early Friday morning.

Bomb squads conducted a sweep of the theater and the parking lot. Police temporarily closed a nearby Grand theater and deployed officers to other movie houses as a precaution.

“Whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us both furious and sad at the same time,” said Louisiana Govner and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, from the scene of the shooting.

“This is an awful night for Lafayette, this is an awful night for Louisiana, this is an awful night for the United States. But we will get through this.”

‘My heart is broken’

The shooting occurred six days after the conviction of James Holmes in the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 people wounded.

On July 19, 2012, Holmes opened fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” using an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one .40 caliber handgun. The shooting stopped with Holmes’ arrest outside the theater about seven minutes after the first 911 calls were made to police.

Late Wednesday night, Amy Schumer, the star of the movie “Trainwreck” tweeted, “My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”

‘We may never know’

While the shooter may have taken his motive with him with his death, the investigation is far from complete. He has a criminal history but it dates back several years, Craft said. He didn’t elaborate further.

“This kind of stuff just leaves you wondering,” he said. “Why would a guy come into a theater in this city — we have a relatively safe city — and just, you know, randomly start shooting people. It’s hard to figure out. He’s deceased, so we may now never know.”

Authorities located the car of the gunman and spotted “stuff in there that looked suspicious,” said Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police.

The bomb squad will blow out the the window and the trunk of the vehicle “to make sure nothing’s in there that will cause anybody that will case anyone any harm.”

For now, the crime scene processing work has been suspended. After the car is cleared, authorities will then go into the theater where the bodies lie.

Authorities will also put together a profile on the shooter, search his house and trace the gun, said CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

For now, said Gov. Jindal: “We can pray. We can hug these families. We can shower them with love, thoughts and prayers.”

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