Theater gunman ‘radical guy’ known to law enforcement

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Police display a photo of John Houser.

John Russel Houser, the 59-year-old “drifter” who shot and killed himself after he unleashed a hail of gunfire inside a Louisiana movie theater, murdering two and injuring nine, was described by those who knew him best as an odd, unstable man with harsh political views and who once tried to burn down the office of an attorney who crossed him.

“I represented somebody, maybe several people, he did not like and he tried to hire someone to burn the law office,” said John Swearingen, a former Columbus, Georgia, attorney, to NBC News. “The man was a police informer and they got it on tape.”

Another Georgia personality, Calvin Floyd, who once hosted a television show that Houser frequented as a guest, called him volatile.

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“He was a radical guy,” he said, to NBC News.

Jeff Hardin, a former Phenix City, Alabama, mayor said similarly. He said he once worked with Houser to flip houses.

“I would venture to say he was conspiracy theory-type guy,” Hardin said, on MSNBC. “He had an equal hatred for all politicians and all policies. Always wanted to discuss politics.”

The commentaries come as police are still trying to determine Houser’s motive for shooting up the movie theater during a showing of “Trainwreck.” Police and witnesses say he bought a ticket with nearly 100 others, sat in the theater and watched the film for fully 20 minutes, then stood in the dark and started firing randomly.

Police say he apparently planned the attack. They found in his room at a local Motel 6 he had a stash of wigs and other disguises, and was planning to flee the scene after the shooting. Police converged on the theater quickly, though, and Houser instead shot and killed himself at the scene.

Houser, who once lived in Alabama, was described as a “drifter” by several authorities.

“He seems to be estranged from his family,” Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters at a news conference on Friday morning. “He just kind of seemed like he was drifting alone.”

But some clues point to mental instability.

A page on the Tea Party Nation website was registered by a man with that name in June 2013. He also was a commenter on, where he wrote about the collapse of the United States and President Barack Obama.

“Why did he come here? Why did he do this? We don’t know that,” said Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police, CNN reported.

CNN reported he was once denied a concealed carry permit in 2006 due to an arrest tied to arson, and that he had received mental health counseling in 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, Russell County, Alabama, Sheriff Heath Taylor said to CNN his office had served him an eviction notice in early 2014.

“He damaged some of the property there and I know he had done something to the gas line and the fireplace,” Taylor said.

CNN also found Houser had a 2008 restraining order against him from his then-wife, who reported both she and his daughter were “fearful of him.” The protective order also read that she was “so worried about [his] volatile mental state” she took out all the guns from their house.

Police were called to the Houser home in Georgia in 2008 for a “mentally disturbed person” call. Kellie Houser told police he had a “history of mental problems (manic depressant and bi-polar) and currently is prescribed medication to take daily,” the documents stated.

She “stated that sometimes he forgets to take his medication and sometimes he forgets to eat, which affects his behavior as well.”

Some of Houser’s blog posts and online messages indicate a dark mind. The Daily Beast reported he became obsessed about his freedoms and determined to prevent his rights from being taken. He once wrote on Topix after a man he knew in the deer-processing business died: “Most people over 50 in certain businesses are just as their parents were, rock solid morally. I am also sorry for what is to come for the other very few moral souls left in the entire US. I am not sorry for the 90% immoral population which will be meeting the same fate. Filth is rampant. That none have stood against it causes me to take rest in the worse than MAD MAX near future which approaches.”

Theater gunman ‘radical guy’ known to law enforcement
Cheryl Chumley
Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:41:54 GMT

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