While thinking it was just another night at the movies, moviegoers witnessed gunfire shots throughout a room at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana on Thursday night. Looking deeper into the gunman shows his far right-wing political beliefs which he made clear across social media and on the local radio.
When 59-year-old John Russell Houser walked into the theater, firing at least 6 rounds, not many were even aware of what was going on around them. Within minutes the situation was over, with three people killed and nine others left injured. One of the three killed was Houser himself, who took his own life just moments after opening fire. One of the first witnesses to speak to the media was Katie Domingue, was described the shooter as an “older white man.” Looking deeper into the background of Houser was Raw Story, who uncovered some disturbing details in a July 23 article about the man who was responsible for the massacre.
Scanning through his social media accounts, Houser was a right-wing conservative who had a deep seeded hatred for President Obama, liberals, and women. A member of the Tea Party Nation since June 2013, but not a frequent contributor, Houser appeared to be a fan of the “I hate liberals!” group on Facebook, one of only two “likes” associated with his account. Houser’s profile included shared articles titled “How Modern Liberals Brainwash People Into Hating America,” as well as referring to the United States as “financially failing filth farm.” Houser’s Twitter account also listed similar shared political information, with a tweet sent out reading, “If you don’t think the internet is censored, try reading a newspaper from a country that hates liberals the way I do.”
Perhaps the most unsettling information revealed was his time as a frequent guest on a local Georgia radio show. Host Calvin Floyd described Houser as a “radical Republican” who had a major issue with women, as reported by the Washington Post.
“He was anti-abortion. The best I can recall, Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything. You could talk with him a few minutes, and you would know he had a high IQ but there was a lot missing with him.”
According to NBC News, the police had responded to multiple calls to Houser’s home over the years, most notably in 2008 when he was described as a “mentally disturbed person.” Houser applied for a concealed weapons permit in 2006, according to Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, but was denied his request because of a domestic violence complaint, in addition to being arrested in the past for arson. However, Houser was able to purchase a Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun at a pawn shop in Phenix City, Alabama, back in February of 2014.
Houser’s shooting rampage is yet another example of the unfortunate result of gun violence in America. If Houser had access to better health care, wasn’t consumed by the right-wing media, and the gun laws in Alabama were more regulated, maybe this tragedy could have been avoided.