News (USA)

Theater shooter thanks man accused of black church slayings

In 2008, a Georgia judge ordered him detained for a mental evaluation after relatives claimed he was a danger to himself and others. But the judge said she didn’t have him involuntarily committed. That could explain how he passed a federal background check in 2014, which enabled him to legally buy the .40-caliber handgun he used in the shooting from a pawn shop in Phenix City, Alabama.

Houser was a regular presence on right-wing extremist message boards, where he praised Adolf Hitler and advised people not to underestimate “the power of the lone wolf,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. A former neighbor said Houser flew a large Confederate flag outside his home and a Nazi swastika outside a bar he owned, and put “doomsday” fliers in his neighbors’ mailboxes.

Houser became estranged from his family and lost his businesses and his Phenix City home. When he was evicted, he ruined the property by pouring concrete into the plumbing and glue into the fixtures, police said. His estranged wife, Kellie Houser, filed for divorce in March 2015, claiming he lashed out at her and warned, “I’d better watch out because he always wins.”

In August, “Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer spoke tearfully of the two women killed in the shooting as she urged lawmakers to support a gun control bill sponsored by her second cousin, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Less than a month after the Lafayette shooting, police in Tennessee shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man who attacked a Nashville-area movie theater with a pellet gun, an ax and pepper spray. The Tennessee shooting occurred while jurors in Colorado were weighing a death sentence for James Holmes, who killed 12 moviegoers and wounded 70 others at a movie theater in 2012.

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