LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Lousiana on Thursday evening, killing three people and injuring at least seven others before 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 theater and that a coroner was on the scene. Earlier in the evening, Acadian Ambulance Vice President Clay Henry had told The Associated Press that the shooter was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
Craft said those who were injured had injuries ranged from non-life-threatening to critical.
There were about 100 people in the theater at the time of the shooting, Sgt. Brooks David of the Louisiana State Police told CNN.
The shooting happened about 20 minutes into a 7 p.m. showing of the movie “Trainwreck,” The Louisiana Advertiser quoted theatergoer 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 theater, 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 exist, leaving behind her shoes and purse.
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. The trial entered a new phase this week as the same jurors decide whether Holmes should die for his crimes.
The jury decided unanimously Thursday that the Colorado attack was cruel enough to justify the death penalty. But jurors must first hear the defense’s arguments for a life term before deciding whether Holmes, 27, will be sentenced to death. The sentencing phase could last up to a month.
Holmes appeared in his first court appearance wide-eyed with shocking orange hair.
Prosecutors said Holmes planned and carried out the massacre to assuage the pain of his failures in graduate school and in romance. Defense 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.
Lafayette is about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge.