Louisiana movie theater gunman espoused anti-Semitic ideas


(JTA) — The gunman who went on a deadly shooting spree in a Louisiana movie theater was known as a right-wing extremist who espoused anti-Semitic ideas.

John Russell Houser, 59, expressed support for Hitler, anti-Semitic ideas and white power groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had his name on file since 2005, The Associated Press reported Friday. The center tracks hate groups and the individuals involved in them.

On Thursday, Houser opened fired with a semi-automatic handgun on the audience at a Lafayette theater during a showing of the new film “Trainwreck.” He killed two and injured nine, then took his own life as police closed in on him in the theater complex. Houser reportedly had a history of mental health problems.

The Anti-Defamation League reported Friday that he admired the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn polit­i­cal party, describ­ing it in 2014 as “com­posed of moral peo­ple”; its ideas as “a legit­i­mate effort to solve prob­lems”; and its lead­ers as “intel­li­gent, well spo­ken, and exer­cis­ing good faith.”

Houser also admired extrem­ist groups and move­ments, includ­ing rad­i­cal Islamists, according to the ADL.

“Yes, I am salut­ing the fun­da­men­tal­ist Mus­lims,” he said in Jan­u­ary. “They have stood against evil.” He added in a follow-up post, “They have my com­plete Chris­t­ian respect.”

Houser may have deliberately chosen “Trainwreck,” the ADL said in a statement, because of its star, Amy Schumer, who also wrote the film.

Schumer “has received con­sid­er­able media atten­tion thanks to the movie and her pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion show, and, given her cho­sen comedic per­sona of a sex­u­ally free-wheeling woman, as well as her lib­eral opin­ions, one could imag­ine how a dis­turbed mind like Houser’s could come to focus on the movie as a sym­bol for all of his dark fan­tasies about moral decay in America,” the ADL wrote.

Houser had been in Louisiana since early July, staying at a Motel 6 after being evicted from his Alabama home, and had visited the theater several times. He purchased the handgun legally at a pawnshop in Alabama.

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