A 58-year-old man with a criminal record* opened fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater last night, killing two and wounding up to nine:
A gunman killed two people and injured nine others late Thursday when he opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun in a Lafayette, La. movie theater before turning the weapon on himself, the city’s police chief said.
Chief Jim Craft told reporters that authorities had identified the shooter as a 58-year-old white man, but did not release his name, citing the ongoing investigation. Craft later said that the gunman had a criminal record, but had not been in trouble with the law recently. He did not elaborate further, and added that no motive had been established. Early Friday, Craft said that investigators were investigating possible addresses for the shooter in multiple Southern states.
The chief said that one of the injured victims was in critical condition and the ages of the wounded ranged from the late teens to early 60s. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that one victim had been released from a local hospital.
Felons cannot legally own firearms.
Police are saying this morning that the murderer fired just 13 shots in his rampage, and had intended to attempt to escape. His car was positioned near the theater door for escape. He took his life instead because of the fast response of four Lafayette police officers who rushed the theater.
The criminal opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun as the previews ended, and roughly 100 people were about to begin watching the movie Trainwreck in the stadium-seating theater. An eyewitness said that he stood from one of the back rows at the top of the theater, and without any warning, began to open fire randomly on the people below and in front of him.
Four Lafayette police officers rushed into the theater to engage the suspect, but found that he had committed suicide with a final shot to the head before they entered.
The Grand 16 has a policy denying citizens the right to self-defense. Lafayette residents stated via Twitter last night that The Grand 16 is the only theater in Lafayette that is a “gun free zone,” but we have not been able to independently verify that claim.
Predictably, many Americans took immediate political stances on the matter.
It is our view from the practical perspective that someone with a decent tactical flashlight—a common 500 lumens-rated light, for example—could have temporarily blinded the shooter, and if that individual was a concealed carrier who had practical low-light training with the tactical light, he or she might have been able to engage and neutralize the murderer before he was able to hurt as many people as he did.
Critics will of course claim that it’s difficult to aim and shoot in a darkened theater, and that a second handgun being fired would have increased casualties.
My practical response to that would be to point out that there was clearly enough lighting for the criminal who carried out this attack to shoot up to 11 people with just 13 shots before turning the gun on himself.
I’d also point out that many concealed carriers who have had low-light training carry a small but very powerful tactical flashlight with them as part of their everyday carry (EDC) equipment [side note: I carry a Olight M18-Maverick] which not only would have provided plenty of lighting to return fire, but would also serve to disorient and temporarily blind the criminal in this darkened theater.
In this particular instance, given the stadium seating design of the theater and the the position of the attacker near the top back of the theater, it does not seem that there would be a downside to engaging him with return fire. Shots that struck the murderer might have ended the attack earlier with few casualties, while misses would have be traveling at an upward angle and would have been relatively little risk to other theater-goers.
It is our view that the presence of a concealed carrier might have reduced the number of casualties in this incident.
Please consider obtaining your concealed carry permit (where required) and obtain professional defensive handgun training, including low-light shooting techniques.
* Bearing Arms does not publish the names of mass killers or spree killers. We do not believe in providing them with the infamy they seek.