BATON ROUGE, La. — The mentally unstable gunman who shot up a Louisiana movie theater last summer left a rambling, hate-filled journal in which called the U.S. a “filth farm,” railed against women, gays and blacks, and thanked a man accused of killing nine churchgoers in South Carolina for his “wake up call.”
The hand-written, 40-page journal released Wednesday doesn’t explain why John Russell Houser decided to kill two people and wound nine at a screening of “Trainwreck” last July 23. He didn’t say a word as he opened fire, killing Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old musician and business owner, and Mayci Breaux, a 21-year-old student. He died from his own gun before anyone could question him.
But the contents suggest Houser expected to die, and knew others would read the words he left in his room at a Motel 6. Shortly before the shooting, Houser wrote on the last page that he was leaving the journal “in hopes of truth, my death all but assured.”
Houser, a 59-year-old drifter, also shared his “random thoughts” on politics, the news media, the presidential race, the Ten Commandments, his favorite movies and music and his view of the future.
“If you have not stood against filth, you are now a soft target,” he wrote on the lined pages of the notebook.
“America is in the midst of celebrating filth, and as such they are the enemy,” he later added.
Houser described Dylann Roof — a young white man accused of killing nine people inside an historic black church in Charleston that June 17 — as “green but good.”
“Thank you for the wake up call Dylann,” he added.
Investigators described the shooting in gruesome detail in reports that totaled 589 pages. They determined that Houser entered the theater with a handgun hidden in his pants, and waited several minutes before pulling it out and opening fire. Police swiftly responded, and eventually interviewed 70 witnesses.
One described seeing Houser walking down the steps, firing rounds at victims before shooting himself in the head. Another said she heard someone scream “He’s reloading!” before she ran out.
Authorities also shared findings their investigation into Houser’s troubled past. In social media posts, Houser he talked about his political beliefs and “anti-government tendencies,” they noted.
“Comments posted in his own writing revealed his ideals and that he had battled his local government and had a hatred for the United States Government. Houser’s interests also included ‘Golden Dawn’ which is a Greek organization with neo-Nazi beliefs,'” one report stated.
Houser had a long history of erratic behavior in the Georgia and Alabama communities where he lived before drifting to Lafayette, a city where his uncle had lived decades earlier.
In 2008, a Georgia judge ordered him detained for a mental evaluation after relatives claimed he was a danger to himself and others. But that judge did not have him involuntarily committed, which could explain how he passed a federal background check in 2014. He legally bought the .40-caliber handgun he used in the shooting from a pawn shop in Phenix City, Alabama, where he became estranged from his family, lost his businesses and faced eviction from his home.
Before he was finally forced out, he ruined the property, pouring concrete into the plumbing and glue into the fixtures, police said. His estranged wife, Kellie Houser, filed for divorce in March 2015, saying he had repeatedly threatened her.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft has said Houser visited the theater more than once, perhaps to determine “whether there was anything that could be a soft target for him.”
Investigators found wigs and disguises in his room, raising the possibility that he had considered making an escape after the shooting. Police said he did try to blend in with the fleeing crowd, but turned back and killed himself as police approached.
“Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer spoke tearfully of the two women killed in the shooting as she urged lawmakers to support a gun control bill sponsored by her second cousin, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.