LAFAYETTE, La. — A gunman opened fire at a movie theatre in Louisiana on Thursday evening, killing two people and injuring at least seven others before fatally shooting himself, officials said.
The gunman, a 58-year-old “lone white male,” fired his weapon “numerous times” before shooting himself at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, city Police Chief Jim Craft told a news conference.
Craft said police know the gunman’s identity but are not releasing it. He said the shooter’s body was still inside the theatre and that a coroner was on the scene.
Craft said injuries ranged from non-life-threatening to critical.
There were about 100 people in the theatre at the time of the shooting, Col. Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police told a news conference. He added that police believe the gunman fired shots only at the theatre 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.
The shooting happened about 20 minutes into a 7 p.m. showing of the movie “Trainwreck,” The Louisiana Advertiser quoted theatregoer Katie Domingue as saying.
“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” Domingue told the newspaper. Domingue said she saw “an older white man” standing up and shooting down into the theatre, but not in her direction.
“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Domingue said.
Domingue told the newspaper she heard about six shots before she and her fiance ran to the nearest exit, leaving behind her shoes and purse.
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.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was also at the scene, called the shooting “an awful night for Louisiana.”
“What we can do now is we can pray,” Jindal said. “We can hug these families. We can shower them with love, thoughts and prayers.”
Jindal said he would meet with the families of the victims.
Lafayette is about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge. Outside the movie theatre 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.
A small group of movie theatre employees stood outside the police perimeter. A man who identified himself as a general manager at the theatre declined to be interviewed: “We would appreciate it if you could give us some space,” he said.
The Louisiana shooting occurred three years after James Holmes entered a crowded movie theatre 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 defence arguments that he was insane and suffering delusions that drove him to the July 20, 2012, attack.
Prosecutors said Holmes planned and carried out the massacre to assuage the pain of his failures in graduate school and in romance. Defence lawyers said schizophrenia had been growing inside Holmes’ mind for years and eventually overwhelmed him, creating a delusion that he could improve his self-worth by killing others and absorbing their value.