Louisiana gunman was a 'lone white male'

2015-07-24 10:11
Bystanders look on as emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette. (Denny Culbert, AP)

Bystanders look on as emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette. (Denny Culbert, AP)

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Louisiana - A man sitting in a packed movie theater in Louisiana stood up and began firing into the crowd, killing two and injuring at least seven others on Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

Police described the shooter as a 58-year-old "lone white male," but did not immediately disclose his name. They later identified his car and evacuated the area after spotting something suspicious inside the vehicle.

Police said they were going to set off an explosion in the car, and minutes later an Associated Press reporter on the scene heard a number of short bursts similar to firecrackers coming from that vicinity.

At least one theatergoer described the scene, saying an older white man stood up during a showing of the movie Trainwreck at the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette and began shooting.

"We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker," Katie Domingue told The Louisiana Advertiser.

'An awful night'

"He wasn't saying anything. I didn't hear anybody screaming either," said Domingue, who added that she heard about six shots before she and her fiance ran to the nearest exit, leaving behind her shoes and purse.

A teacher who was in the theater pulled a fire alarm to alert others, said Governor Bobby Jindal, who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting.

Police Chief Jim Craft told a news conference that they know who the gunman is, but are not immediately releasing his name. Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police said the body of the shooter and "at least one other person" were still inside.

Seven people were hurt, with injuries ranging from non-life-threatening to critical, Craft said.

There were about 100 people in the theater at the time of the shooting, Edmonson said. He said police believe the gunman fired shots only at the theater and had not waged an attack anywhere else beforehand.

"We have no reason to believe that this individual acted beyond this location here," Edmonson said.

Edmunson said police saw something suspicious inside the shooter's car and that a bomb-sniffing dog "hit on three different locations" in the vehicle, "so out of an abundance of caution we brought in the bomb squad".

One of the stars of the movie, actress Amy Schumer sent a tweet: "My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana."

Jindal called the shooting "an awful night for Louisiana."

"What we can do now is we can pray," he said.

Lafayette is about 100km west of Baton Rouge. Outside the movie theater complex hours after the shooting, a couple of dozen police cars were still at the scene, which authorities had cordoned off with police tape as onlookers took photos with their cellphones.

The Louisiana shooting occurred three years after James Holmes entered a crowded movie theater in suburban Denver and opened fire during the premier of a Batman film, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others.

A jury last week quickly convicted Holmes on 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges, rejecting defense arguments that he was insane and suffering delusions that drove him to the July 20 2012, attack.

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