Universal on 'Trainwreck' Shooting: "Heartfelt Sympathies" For Victims

John Russell Houser

Three people were killed, including the gunman, in a shooting at a Louisiana movie theater on Thursday night.

Universal Pictures has commented on Thursday night's shooting at a Trainwreck screening in Lafayette, Louisiana.

“All of us at Universal Pictures send our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of this senseless tragedy and their families in Louisiana," the studio, which is distributing the Amy Schumer comedy said on Friday.

Three people were killed, including the shooter, and nine more injured when a man opened fire at the beginning of a screening of Trainwreck, the raunchy comedy starring and written by Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow.

The Grand theater, where the incident occurred, also released a statement on Friday, saying, “All of us offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the community of Lafayette. We are grateful to all local officials and to the governor for their efforts.” The multiplex’s owner Southern Theaters has not yet commented on the incident.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also released the below statement on Friday, saying in part, "The movie-going experience is one we should be able to enjoy in a safe environment with family and friends."

 

 

Schumer, Apatow and Brie Larson, who has a significant role in the film as Schumer's character's younger sister, all released statements on the incident.

"One of the reasons we make these movies is because the world can be so horrifying and we all need to laugh just to deal with it," Apatow said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "So to have this happen in a room where people were smiling and laughing devastates me. My thoughts and love go out to the victims and anyone touched by this madness or any madness. We, as a country, need to find a way to do better.”

Schumer tweeted Thursday night, "My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana."

Larson said, "I'm devastated and deeply disturbed by this tragedy. My thoughts and condolences go out to the victims and their families in Louisiana."

Police identified the shooter as John Russell Houser, a 59-year-old white male, who was sitting in the theater alone when he opened fire with a handgun. They said he had planned to escape out of the theater after firing the initial gunshots, but when he saw the police presence, he went back in and shot himself. The other two people killed were both white women: Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33. Breaux died at the scene and Johnson died at the hospital.

Nine others were injured, with two survivors released and the rest hospitalized, one in critical condition, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said during a press conference. Those injured range in age from late teens to early 60s, but Craft said Friday morning that police would not be releasing any identifying information on the injured victims.

The Louisiana State Police said they do not yet have a motive for the shooting but were committed to finding one.

"Certainly it exists out there that we may not find a motive, but that's not our goal right now," Louisiana State Police superintendent Col. Michael D. Edmonson said. "Everyone [in law enforcement working on this case] is trying to find a motive, trying to find something: Why'd he walk into that theater? Why'd he fire at least 13 times? Why'd he turn around and go back in there? Why'd he leave his car outside with the keys on top of the tire? Why was he living in a [Motel 6]? Why did he have wigs and glasses in there?"

Edmonson continued: "We've got to put these things together and try to find some type of closure, for that family, for this community, for the men and women that worked in that theater. … We're trying to put every single piece of that together to try to find a motive. ... It happened here for a reason…I think we owe it to those families to try to find some type of closure and put those pieces together to give us some answers."

Lafayette police said in an early Friday morning press conference that Houser, who lived in Alabama, was "kind of a drifter." They said he had been in the Lafayette area since early July, staying at a local Motel 6, where the police found disguises, including glasses and wigs. They also located his car at the theater and the area was evacuated after a suspicious package was spotted, with the bomb squad coming in to investigate. The police said no explosives were found in Houser's car or the theater. His car had a "switched license tag" on it, police said.

Police officers have also been to Houser's house in Alabama and are talking to his friends and family. But it seems Houser was estranged from them and drifting around. The only connection to Lafayette they found so far is that he had an uncle who lived here, who has been dead for 35 years. Craft said early Friday morning that there are indications that alcohol may have been consumed but there's no sign of drug use by the shooter.

Houser's wife and other family members in 2008 asked for a temporary protective order, the AP reported, citing court documents that said Houser, "exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements." The documents added that he had gone from Phenix City, Alabama, where he lived, to Carroll County, Georgia, where his wife and her family lived and "perpetrated various acts of family violence." The filing noted that Houser, "has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder." That order was at least temporarily granted. Houser's wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, filed for divorce in March of this year, the AP added.

At a later press conference on Friday morning, Craft said that only 25 tickets were sold to Trainwreck, with Houser among those who purchased a ticket, not doing anything suspicious or looking that way. Craft added that 300 people were in the building at the time of the shooting and 116 of those people have been interviewed.

Craft and Edmonson said that crime-scene investigators and other law-enforcement officers both locally and from Homeland Security, the FBI, DEA, ATF and Secret Service were all on the case but cautioned it would take some time for them to get to the bottom of what happened, describing the investigation as "slow going" from there on out.

Edmonson said authorities are looking into online postings that Houser may have made, in which he commented on things happening in the federal, state and local government, but he urged the media to be cautious.

"Just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's true," he said. "Chief Craft and myself have to look at every single thing to try to find pieces of that puzzle so we can put it together."

Among the things law-enforcement has learned from Houser's family: his mom loaned him some money and he told her he was going to get his life together, police said.

Edmonson assured people that there's no ongoing threat from the shooting, with no indication Houser had an accomplice or anyone who would try to unleash a follow-up attack.

Since police released the name of the shooter, they are getting calls from people who say they may have had interactions with Houser.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, officials at one of the hospitals treating victims, Lafayette General Health, said of the five people injured in the shooting that they tended to, two were treated and released and three are in stable condition, one of whom required surgery and another required intensive care. Lafayette General president David Callecod said all five people treated had gunshot wounds and three of them were classified as "level one" trauma, meaning they had injuries to the head, neck, torso, knee or elbow. Hospital officials added that most of the wounds were located on people's extremities, most prominently on the lower extremities. One of those injured had a torso wound.

More to come...

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