Catholics in Louisiana are stunned by Thursday's deadly mass shooting at a Lafayette movie theater and are praying for those affected, the local bishop has said. “We are all shocked and saddened by this tragedy,” Bishop Michael Jarrell of Lafayette said July 23. “We pray that everyone affected by this horror may feel the comforting presence of our Lord Jesus surrounding them during this difficult time.” “Lafayette is a place of great faith,” Bishop Jarrell continued. “We ask all the Catholic faithful and, indeed, all people of good will throughout Acadiana to stop, and offer sincere and thoughtful prayer for those who have died, the wounded, their families as well as the perpetrator of this evil act.” A gunman shot at least 11 people, killing two, before he killed himself at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette Thursday night. Police identified the shooter as John Russel Houser, 59. Officials said he was a “drifter” from Alabama who was staying at a nearby motel. Police said his motives were unclear. He appeared to have acted alone and he apparently did not know the victims, the BBC reports. He may have intended to flee instead of killing himself, but the police response forced him back into the theater. Bishop Jarrell voiced thanks for the efforts of law enforcement, paramedics, and first responders. “Our priests and deacons stand ready to pray with any of the wounded and family members impacted by this senseless tragedy,” he said. The bishop voiced Catholics’ commitment to “promoting a society that respects the dignity of every human life.” Fellow U.S. bishops have chimed in on Twitter with messages of solidarity for the people of Lafayette. Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth tweeted, “Praying tonight for the victims and families of the theater shooting in Lafayette, LA. Violence cheapens appreciation for life as a gift.” And Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis posted an image of the Fleur-de-lis, a historic Louisiana symbol, under the hashtag “#PrayForLafayette”.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.