John Russell Houser, the man accused of opening fire in a Lafayette Theater on Thursday, was able to obtain the gun he used legally despite having an extensive criminal background and history of mental illness.
Huffington Post reports that Houser was charged with at least a dozen crimes in Georgia between 1989 and 2011, ranging from traffic citations to leaving a dog unattended. At one point Houser was charged with theft when he was caught removing political signs from private lawns. Houser had a background of criminal charges against him in other states as well, including a domestic violence complaint lodged against him in 2005.
A report by the Washington Post states that Houser applied for a concealed carry permit in 2006 but was blocked due to a previous arson charge and the domestic violence charge. However, Houser's crimes weren't considered serious enough to raise any red flags, enabling him to clear the background check necessary to legally purchase firearms.
According to Drew Griffin of CNN, "He just didn't show up on any of the instant background checks"
John Russell Houser held two degrees, one in Accounting and one in Law. He was married and had a family, and unsuccessfully ran for local government in Georgia. At one point, he also owned a bar. Houser's behavior took a turn for the worse in 2008, and things began to go downhill for him. He lost his business and became estranged from his family, and at one point he was accused of stalking his daughter. He was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment following those incidents. It's unclear why Houser's history of mental illness didn't raise red flags on the background check.
Houser had a history of online posts demonstrating extreme opinions on race and immigration. He frequently posted anti-government rants, and spoke out frequently against censorship of White Power groups. Houser was also outspoken about his fears for the future of the country.
"It is true that the US is about to fall. I will be in fear at that time as will everyone else,but not in a fear which resembles that of the leaders of foolishness and the brainwashed that follow.Truth carries with it an understanding of death. Rather than live without it,I will take death. My greatest fear is that I could die making a decision for the good of myself against everyone else.The death I fear is the death fools will experience [sic]," Houser wrote on PoliticalForum.com
Houser took his own life after killing two and injuring nine during a showing of Trainwreck. Officials are still unsure about Houser's motives for opening fire in the theater.
[Image via LinkedIn]