Avoyelles reacts to Lafayette theater shooting


Many Avoyelles Parish residents travel to Lafayette for shopping, dining and entertainment. Many of our high school graduates attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 
For many the shooting at the Grand 16 Theatre on Johnston Street last Thursday night hit close to home.
John “Rusty” Houser, 59, of Phenix City, Ala., reportedly stood up about 20 minutes into the comedy Trainwreck and began shooting into the crowded theater, killing two and wounding nine moviegoers. He killed himself with a single gunshot before police could capture him.
Community reaction
Area residents had a variety of reactions to the tragedy which headlined the national news.
Devan Cole of Centerpoint wrote on the avoyellestoday.com social media page that she works at Aries Marine Company in Lafayette. Cole said her boss was shot four times during the onslaught -- to the leg, hip, shoulder and back. His wife was shot in the hand. 
“Both are doing good,” she wrote.
Kayla Guillory of Evergreen has two daughters living in Lafayette. Guillory said the tragedy brings home the sad realization that people can no longer go anywhere and relax without fear.
Frank Giglio, co-owner of Mardel Products in Mansura, has three sons, one of whom lives in Lafayette. He said he spoke to his son in Lafayette when he heard about the shooting to be sure he was safe.
“This was very close to home and does cause concern,” Giglio said. “There is nothing good about this situation other than it was a lone gunman and not some terrorist group.”
Joel Desselle, of Marksville,  whose daughter is married to Giglio’s son, said he was shocked to hear of the shooting in Lafayette -- especially at the theater his family has been to several times.
“This was scary because it hit so close to home,” Desselle said. “The entire family was texting as a group once we heard of the shooting. What is going on with the world? Just think, the shooter was from out of state. A drifter.”
There were several comments on the avoyellestoday.com Facebook page about the tragedy.
Arlene Ducote is a Marksville native who currently resides in Lafayette. “I frequent that theatre and I can say I feel they handled this situation very well,” she wrote. “We the people of Lafayette are saddened by this tragedy.”
Julia Flippo of Marksville has a son who attends the University of Lafayette and has been to the Grand Theatre many times.
“I am so grateful my son did not decide to go out to a movie there Thursday night,” she wrote. “As a parent, I am both nervous about the situation and very thankful my children are safe.”
Law enforcement reaction
It’s a tragedy,” State Trooper Willie Williams of Morrow and former Bunkie policeman said Friday morning. “It’s not surprising but was unexpected that this type of shooting would happen in our backyard.”
Williams, who has been with  State Police Troop I for several years, said he was shocked when he heard of the shooting. He is currently working on a detail in New Orleans and had no knowledge of the shooting other than what he heard on the news.
He did say that law enforcement and other emergency agencies need to continue to train for this kind of scenario.
The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted an “active shooter” training last month at Avoyelles High in Moreauville. Law enforcement and other agencies participate in such training to practice what they would do in the event of a gunman in a public building, such as a school or movie theater.
“What happened in Lafayette was an active shooter scenario and that is what we trained for at Avoyelles High,” APSO Chief Deputy Steve Martel said. “What you saw on the television is exactly what officers are trained to do. They were running towards the shooter to confront him as soon as possible while citizens were running away from the theater.”
Martel said it is saddening and disheartening to see this type of situation anywhere in the United States, but especially so close to Avoyelles Parish.
“While the victims and their families have to live with what has happened, it was good to see many more good people step up and help the injured and all the families involved,” Martel added.
Unfortunately, Williams said this type of incident -- similar to a shooting at a Dark Knight premier in Aurora, Colo., July 20, 2012 -- “is something we have come to expect. We need to pray for the victims and this country.”


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