Louisiana Shooter Had ‘A History of Mental Illness’

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 24, 2015 6:45 PM
Louisiana Shooter Had ‘A History of Mental Illness’

More information has been released about John Russel Houser today. Houser opened fire in a movie theater during the 7 p.m. showing of Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” last night in Lafayette, Louisiana, which killed two people and injured nine. The Grand Theater where the incident took place is also a gun free zone. Houser committed suicide during the event, though he had parked his blue Lincoln Continental by the exit, prompting authorities to suspect that he had planned to flee the scene. He had lived in a Motel 6 in Phenix City, Alabama, which is right across the river from Columbus, Georgia, where the Columbus State University acknowledged that Houser had attended the institution, receiving a degree in accounting in 1988. He was also active in local politics. Yet, he also had a history of mental illness, and was considered generally unbalanced by members of his family. They described him as suffering from maniac depression, possibly bi-polar disorder in court documents. In fact, Mr. Houser appears to have been a very unwell man (via AP):

In the 1990s, he frequently appeared on a local television call-in show, advocating violence against people involved in abortions, said Calvin Floyd, who hosted the morning show on WLTZ-TV in Columbus, Georgia.

Houser also espoused other radical views, including his opposition to women in the workplace. Floyd described Houser as an "angry man" who made "wild accusations" about all sorts of topics, and said he put him on to counter a Democratic voice because "he could make the phones ring."

[…]

Houser "has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder," his family said in court documents in 2008, when he made violent threats in an effort to stop his daughter's wedding. A judge granted the family's petition to have him involuntarily committed to a hospital as "a danger to himself and others."

Houser refused to back down after getting out, however, so his wife, daughter and other relatives also obtained a protective order after accusing him of having "perpetrated various acts of family violence."

His daughter, Kirbey Ellen Houser, was engaged to Andrew Michael Broome at the time, and though they were 23 and 26, he felt they were too young to be married. "He has exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements" that their marriage would not occur, the filing says.

Police weren't sure why Houser ended up in Louisiana years after becoming estranged from family living in Alabama and Georgia. Police said his mother had recently loaned him some money because he said he was trying to get his life together.

"It just seems like he was kind of drifting along," Craft said. He had an uncle that once lived in Lafayette, but he died 35 years ago. "We don't know why he decided to stop and stay in Lafayette."

He identifies as a supporter of the Tea Party, though that’s somewhat irrelevant since many Tea Partiers advocate for smaller government, fewer taxes, and respect for the Constitution, without shooting up movie theaters. In 2008, his wife and other family members filed a temporary protective order against him, citing his “erratic behavior." His now-ex wife removed all firearms and weapons from the home due to safety concerns, according to the Times Picayune.

WSFA 12, the local NBC station based in Montgomery, Alabama, reported that Houser did not have any arrests for the past 10-15 years, though he was charged with arson and selling alcohol to a minor.

He was denied a concealed carry permit in 2006 due to a domestic violence report filed by his then-wife, according to Phenix City Sheriff Heath Taylor. Additionally, he engaged in a bizarre campaign of home vandalism when his house was foreclosed on in 2014 (via Alabama Media Group):

Norman Bones, who bought Houser's 32nd Street home at a public auction in February 2014, knew Rusty for 20-25 years. He went to church with Houser and his former wife, Kelly, at Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga.

Bones remembered him as a "fine guy, a good guy," he said, while recalling that Houser even preached one night at the church.

Houser is a graduate of Columbus High School and Columbus State Community College.

All that changed, though, when Bones tried to take possession of Houser's which he bought for his daughter, Beth, and her boyfriend, Dan Ramsell.

Understandably, Houser was upset and angry over losing his house to foreclosure.

The Bones, though, said Houser's actions went beyond that. They were the actions of a wild man.

Houser tried his hardest to destroy the house, the Bones said.

He tried to blow up the house by leaving the gas on and shutting off all of the vents, neighbors recalled.

Buckets containing human feces were placed inside the house, the Bones said. Purple paint was splattered throughout the interior and the exterior. The bathroom and kitchen drains were filled with concrete and the pool was filled with more than 300 Koi fish, they said.

Taylor confirmed much of the Bones account of vandalism done to their home by Houser. He said a report was filed, but Houser was never arrested. Norman Bones said he awoke to his telephone ringing early this morning. It was the Federal Bureau of Investigation wanting to search Houser's former home. Bones met a Phenix City police officer at 3:14 a.m. and handed over the keys. As far as he knows, police didn't find anything.

Okay. Mr. Houser should have never been within 100 miles of a firearm. Mental illness being a factor in these mass shootings is part of an ongoing trend. Adam Lanza, Aaron Alexis, James Holmes, and Elliott Rodger all exhibited signs of serious mental illness. Maybe it’s time to have a serious debate about the mental health system in America, how most funding goes toward prescriptions, how reporting methods needs to be made more efficient. If Aaron Alexis’ mental health problems were properly reported, his security clearance would have been revoked, thus preventing his shooting at the Navy Yard. Yet, there’s a slim chance that debate will actually happen.

Last note: Uh, Houser reportedly hung a Nazi flag over his bar.  It was apparently in response to authorities shutting it down in 2000 after it was discovered minors were being served alcohol.