A Thursday evening performance of the new comedy Trainwreck at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, took a tragic turn when shots were fired. Three people (including the gunman) are confirmed dead and seven others faced injuries, three of whom are in critical condition. Reportedly, nearly 100 patrons were in the auditorium at the time of the shooting and it occurred about twenty minutes into the feature or shortly before 7:30PM. Nine moviegoers in total where hit, ages ranging from late teens to 60s. The names of the deceased haven’t been publicly unveiled.
The gunman, whose identity is known by authorities but hasn’t been publicly released, is believed to be a 58-year old white male. According to eyewitness reports, the gunman stood up early on in the screening of Trainwreck and appeared to randomly start firing his handgun into the audience. The gunman was also killed due to a self-inflicted shot. Katie Domingue, a patron in the theater, told The Advertiser, “We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker. He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.” Motives are unknown, however, Lafayette police believe this was a lone gunman situation and Police Chief Jim Craft observed that the suspect had a criminal background, noting, “but it looks like it’s pretty old.”
Police were called and entered the scene while the shooting was still taking place. The 16-screen Grand Theater, which is operated by Southern Theaters (the eighth largest chain in the nation), is located on one of the busiest streets in the city. As a precaution, Lafayette police closed down another Grand Theater located nearby and dispatched officers to neighboring movie theaters (a beefed up security presence will likely ensue at major theaters across the nation in the aftermath of this tragedy).
Adding an even eerier undercurrent to the tragedy Thursday night was that it arrived nearly three years to the day of the horrific event that occurred during a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night Rises in Aurora, Colorado. That event, which took place on July 20, 2012, resulted in the death of twelve people and upwards of 70 injuries. Last week, the suspect of the Aurora tragedy- James Holmes- was found guilty of first degree murder and may face the death penalty.
Amy Schumer, the star and writer of Trainwreck addressed the tragedy publicly via Twitter.
My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 24, 2015
The American Film Institute also issued a statement:
Going to a summer movie is a celebration of the American creative spirit and one of our nation’s most beloved pastimes. Let us stand together in these times of tragedy and embrace what is precious to us — churches, schools and places where the arts can send our spirits soaring. As a national community of artists and audiences, AFI offers our heartfelt sympathies to the victims in Louisiana and their families.
We will stay tuned to developments on this breaking and very sad story and hope to keep our reporting of tragic events strictly within the confines of thrillers and horror films in the future.