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The Lafayette Police Department has released surveillance video of the Grand Theater lobby and hallways just moments before John Houser opened fire on a theater of patrons, July 23rd, 2015.
 
 (video and 911 calls posted below)


 
 
 
The gunman can be seen purchasing a ticket, entering the lobby and walking into a screening of "Trainwreck" just prior to the shooting which claimed the lives of two women and injured 9.

Houser walked inside the 7:10pm showing of the film about 10 minutes after the movie started. Initial police reports indicate he opened fire at 7:28pm.

Authorities indicate the time-stamp on the footage is 18 minutes and 25 seconds faster than the actual time that night.
 
Cops have also released 911 calls from the night of the shooting: 
 


 
The two women killed in the shooting are identified as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson. Cops say Houser wasn't in the theater long before he stood up and began methodically firing shots at people.

Authorities say Houser suffered from a series of extreme mental problems and had even been committed by his family in 2008. 

Cops believe Houser began to leave with the crowd rushing out, but turned around when he saw officers had already arrived, then turned the gun on himself.
 
 
 

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The Slidell Police Department says a group of organized criminals were busted for stealing nearly half a million dollars at businesses with ATMs and check cashing outlets over the past year.  Sgt. Daniel Seuzeneau says two suspects, 36-year-old Marvin Hudson and 44-year-old Allden Jones, were arrested after trying to steal $12,000 from the Cash Cow in Slidell.  


Seuzeneau says the pair had a sophisticated scheme going.
 
"The suspects would methodically choose a location.  They would test the alarm and then conduct counter-surveillance to see how police would respond."

Seuzeneau says the two were often able to complete their burglaries in two minutes.

"And in those two minutes, they would either take the entire ATM machine or cut open the safe.  Sometimes getting away with as much as $20,000 in cash."

He says the duo were chased to a New Orleans East home and were captured after a short standoff.  Hudson and Jones each face burglary and other charges from the Slidell incident.  Seuzeneau says it is believed that more people are involved and is hopeful more arrests are coming.

"We're working very close with the FBI and all the other agencies in hopes that we can piece together this organized group and hopefully bring down everybody." 

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Sweltering heat continues to impact Louisiana.  Much of the state is under a Heat Advisory today, with an Extreme Heat Warning in effect for northeast Louisiana.  


Danielle Manning, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says a weak cold front will move across the state as we approach the weekend.
 
"I'd use that term loosely.  Technically it's a cold front, but you're not going to see a whole lot of difference in the temperatures.  The main impact will be that it will dry us out and it won't be quite as humid."

Wednesday, several locations in the state either matched or broke high temperature records.  Manning says this cold front won't bring afternoon high temperatures down very much.

"We'll still see temperatures in the mid to, even, upper 90s over the weekend, but our heat index values will not be nearly as high."

She says the state can expect the heat to continue through the rest of the summer.  Manning says everyone should take precautions dealing with these temperatures.

"It's a good idea to stay out of the sun during the peak heating hours of the day and take lots of breaks if you have to do any work outside."

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Baton Rouge Police say a Morgan City man, wanted in a Lafayette shooting death, was killed during a shootout with police.  Cpl L'Jean McKneely says members of the US Marshal's Task Force learned that 37-year-old Lawrence Blackburn was hiding in an apartment complex in Baton Rouge.  


He says authorities began evacuating the apartments.
 
"And as they were escorting individuals out, there was an exchange of gunfire between Blackburn and some members in the US Marshal's Task Force."

Blackburn was on the run, wanted for first degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Dravin Stevenson of Lafayette.  It is believed that Blackburn initiated the gunfire.  McKneeley says US Marshals shot Blackburn and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"No member of the US Marshal's Task Force was injured.  One lady was injured, we're just unsure by whom she was injured during the exchange of gunfire."

He says one woman was shot in the leg during the incident.  She was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  The investigation is ongoing.  McKneeley says US Marshals happened to be at the right place at the right time in locating Blackburn.

"They were just checking out some of the location where he may possibly be.  It just so happened he was at one of those locations."

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Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a new report from the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 45% of the private sector workforce in Louisiana cannot earn paid sick days. Spokeswoman Vicky Shabo says when people can't take paid time away from work, they often jeopardize their job or their ability to make ends meet.


"They are also more likely to go to work sick because they can't afford to be fired or lose income," says Shabo. "That means spreading contagions through workplaces to co-workers and to customers and that's bad for public health."

Shabo says for a typical family in the United States without paid sick days,  3.5 days lost to illness are equal to the family's entire monthly grocery budget. She says about 90 percent of workers in restaurants can not earn a single paid sick day.

"And in Louisiana more than 160,000 people work in restaurants so this is a significant problem," said Shabo.

The National Federation of Independent Business opposes any kind of mandate which would require employers to offer paid sick time.

State Director Dawn Starns says they found 75% of employers already offer some form of paid sick leave and the government should not be telling people how to run their business.

"Mandating this sort of benefit is costly, inflexible and unnecessary," said Starns. "So many business owners are already doing what they can to help their employees."

She says owners should be able to have flexibility when it comes to running their operation.

"A mandate like this would take away that flexibility in the sense of making the best decision for their business and their employees," said Starns.

 

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Good Houskeeping magazine has named Nachitoches as one of the 50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America.  The publication selected one town from each state to make up their list.  


Samantha Bonnette, Public Relations Director for the city of Nachitoches, says they are excited to be part of this list.
 
"Any time we're recognized it's always an honor.  We were just named the Best Southern Small Town and now to named one of the Most Beautiful Small Towns is just, indeed, and honor and we couldn't be more pleased."

Natchitoches was recently named Best Southern Small Town by readers of USA Today and 10Best-dot-com.  Bonnette says they are proud to be on this list that features some real high quality small towns across the country.

"To be compared to Sedona, Arizona, which is so beautiful, and Breckenridge, Colorado, which is so well known, it's just amazing."

Other small towns on the list include Taos, New Mexico and Cooperstown, New York.  Bonnette says she can see how Good Housekeeping picked Natchitoches for this list.

"They fall in love with our architecture and the brick paved streets.  It just puts a really nice, beautiful streetscape together."

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A community gathering in Lafayette to reflect on those lost and injured in The Grand movie theater shooting will take place tonight at Blackham Coliseum. Lafayette Government Spokesperson Cyrda Wingerter says many are still struggling with what happened and this event is for everyone to come together and hug it out. 

 
"It's an opportunity for us to come together as a community to honor those who were injured, those who survived, our first responders and ultimately start that path of healing for our community."

Wingerter says there will be music, artistic opportunities to create prayer flags, and recognition of people involved, including those caring for victims after the tragedy. She says they want the gathering to portray the culture and spirit of Lafayette.
 
"It's a time for us to come together as a close community. There have been prayer vigils, we've been meeting in small groups. We wanted to offer this opportunity to come together in a much larger capacity. "

Wingerter says the healing ceremony will provide resources and crisis professionals for those struggling with last week's tragic event.
 
"Essentially, our idea is we want to make this an event that appeals to everyone as much as possible to give a multitude of our citizens the opportunity to heal."
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern and Jeff Palermo reporting.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says it's likely that the criminal charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings could be dropped. The QB and two other Tigers are accused of breaking into an apartment in June to retrieve items which belonged to Jennings.


Moore says the tenant has contacted his office.

"They've already filed an affidavit with me asking that the charges be dropped," said Moore.

LSU Coach Les Miles says the status of the players fully depends on the schedule of the DA.

"I'm a tremendous supporter of what he does and I recognize that the legal process takes its direction," says Miles. "We will follow thereafter, I promise."

Moore is not giving a timetable on making a decision but did say that all he needs at this point is paperwork on what the complainants told cops the night of the incident.

"I would expect that once I get the transcripts and take a look at those and possibly interview a couple folks that it could be very soon," says Moore. "Possibly a week or two."

The team reports for fall camp on August 5th. 

Jennings, defensive tackle Maquedius Bain and safety Dwayne Thomas were all charged with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and were suspended from the team.

Moore says since then, the people renting that apartment have asked that the charges be dropped.

"That would routinely mean the charges are dismissed," says Moore. "But this takes on a different light and I need to make sure what I'm doing is correct."

 

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Michelle Southern reporting. Lt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and his CrimeStoppers videos are officially all over the place after getting exposure on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week. In the latest video, Higgins, aka “The Cajun John Wayne,” calls out someone who robbed a local supermarket.


"We're going to identify you, arrest you and put you in a small cell. After that I'm going to have a cheeseburger here. Meanwhile, your next meal will be served through a small hole in a cell door," says Higgins. 
 
The video, which is also making the rounds from CNN to Fox News, has over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Lt. Higgins tells us this crime is being seen by people from all over the world and remarks in the video, “Congratulations son, I’m about to make you famous,”

 
"Yeah, they're getting famous and it has helped, we've received many tips on this most recent video and I'm quite sure it's going to lead to an arrest," Higgins tells LRN.

After playing the video, Fallon told the audience that he believes Lt. Higgins should run for president.
 
Lt. Higgins says creating these Crimestopper videos and getting the word out about crimes happening in the Acadiana region, even on this national stage, is his job.
 
"My job is as a public information officer for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office is to cultivate and maintain a good relationship with the media and that requires honest and prompt responses," Higgins said.
 
 
 

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Legislation that will increase benefits for veterans has been unanimously approved by the US House. Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham of Richland Parish authored the legislation and it’s his first bill that’s been approved by the house. Abraham says under the bill vets will receive a cost of living adjustment tied to social security.

“I think social security recipients got a bump of 1.7 percent and we’re looking at something in that neighborhood to bump up our veterans.”

Abraham says this is the least we can do and more should be done for our veterans. He says reforming the V-A is his top legislative priority.

“I’m glad to see us pass my bill that will bring at least some financial stability for veterans who are plagued by this dysfunctional department.”

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration. Abraham says if this becomes law, the benefits will begin in December. He says vets regularly come into the the office and tell him what a struggle it is to make ends meet in this economy.

“So anything we can do up here to at least bridge that gap between the debts coming in, the bills coming in, and the money coming in, we certainly want to be a part of that solution.”

 
 
 

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The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a Deville mother accused of filing a false kidnapping report.  Lt. Tommy Carnline says 24-year-old Ashley Ballard reported the incident happened as she was walking down the road with her four children.


"When four men in a white Dodge Neon stopped, knocked her to the ground and took the 2-year-old child from her arms, and left."

Ballard says she was able to recover the child in a ditch down the road.  Carnline says investigators began canvassing the area searching for the car, but things weren't adding up.

"After our detectives arrived and started conducting their investigation, it was determined that the alleged kidnapping never occurred and the complaint was false."
 
Ballard is charged with filing a false police report.  Carnline says they have yet to determine Ballard's motive in filing the false report.  He says the Sheriff's office always wants to err on the side of caution and they treat every call like it's a legitimate call.

"It's very fortunate that this was not an actual kidnapping, but with the false police report, that was not a good thing." 

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State Health officials have found another water system in Louisiana that contains a deadly brain eating amoeba. The Department of Health and Hospitals says the presence of the amoeba was found during surveillance testing of a water system that serves 1,8000 residents near Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry...

 
"Fortunately we're not reporting anybody that's sick or that's died of the amoeba. It's just in the water and you can avoid it by keeping the water out your nose, up their nose, high up your nose. "

This is the same amoeba found in St. Bernard Parish last week. Guidry says the water is safe to drink. He says it's not a surprise that they've detected the presence of this amoeba in two water systems within two weeks.
 
"Trying to stay on top of it, certainly with the heat and the amoeba loving warm water, it's no surprise that it might show up in other systems as well."

Guidry says the amoeba thrives at this type of year and the warm water dissipates the chlorine, making it hard to get rid of. He says they plan on keeping surveillance up and conducting a chlorine burn.
 
"We still have work to do to try to balance chlorination of this infection and keeping this amoeba at bay."
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
In a recent study by WalletHub, Louisiana ranks near the bottom in the nation when it comes to the quality of its school systems. The state came in at No. 47 overall with low data rankings in School System Quality at No. 43 on the list and School Safety at 44.

"I do think we've made strides and a lot of things to try to improve the quality of education in our state," says Baton Rouge Rep. Steve Carter, Chairman of the state House Education Committee. "We've done a lot as far as letter grades are concerned and as far as accountability is concerned."

The study ranks Louisiana number 48th in both math and reading test scores, but Carter says there are a lot of good things happening in our schools which are turning that trend around.

"I look for the future to be bright and I think we're doing a better job and hopefully that will continue," says Carter. "We're making a little bit of improvement but we're not making as much as I'd like to see."

Louisiana also ranked second to last on the study in the safest schools category which looked at the percentage of public school students who reported being threatened or injured. 

In the bullying incidents rate our schools came in at number 30 and Carter says this really bothers him.

"We need to find a way to cease the bullying," says Carter. "It's just not right and we want kids to enjoy their experience in going to school and not have fear."


 

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The most recent campaign finance figures for the Lt. Governor's race shows Republican John Young leading the field with over $2.2 million in cash on hand.  Fellow Republican Billy Nungesser is not far behind with more than $1.6 million.  


Political analyst Clancy Dubos says that's a lot of money for this race.
 
"More money than some candidates for governor have on hand.  It means voters are going to hear a lot of messaging about this.  There will be some attacks, I suspect, back and forth."

Democrat Kip Holden reports $68,000 cash on hand, while Republican Elbert Guillory owes his campaign nearly $4,000.  Dubos says, as the only Democrat in the race, Holden may have sizable support that will offset his lack of financial resources.

"It all depends on whether the Democrats coalesce behind him and how much of an effort they put forth for him while they're putting forth an effort for John Bel Edwards in the governor's race."

Dubos feels the candidates for Lt. Governor will keep a tight grip on their cash until we get to qualifying in early September.  He says this race will be definitely be one to keep your eye on this fall.

"I think, outside the governor's race, this is going to be the most hotly contested race along with the race for Attorney General." 

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The Humane Society of Louisiana issues a statewide heat advisory for pets after learning of a dog fatality in Franklin Parish. Director Jeff Dorson says during the hot summer months they start to receive a lot of calls from around the state regarding people not taking proper care of their pets,especially dogs and leaving them out in the heat.

 
"Remind them how hot it is for the animals and it's their responsibility, ethically and legally to take care of them."

Dorson says in the case in Franklin Parish, they got a call from neighbors about a gray pit bull tired up outside without any shade or water for several days. He says the dog wrapped itself around a poll and ultimately died of heat exhaustion and the owner, who was not present when officers arrived, will be charged with cruelty to animals.
 
"It's a terrible thing that could've easily been prevented. Sadly, we get several of those calls a year, dogs can't get out of the sun, there is no place for them to cool off and here they are with fur coats."

Dorson says the key is to prevent heat stroke rather than treat it by making sure your pets are comfortable. He says dogs are social animals and want to be inside and a part of the family.
 
"It's a very harsh environment for some dogs. Unfortunately, as much as a lot of us care about dogs, not everybody has the same value system so they may leave for several days at a time and think nothing of it."
 
 
 

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The Louisiana Republican Party is officially endorsing Jeff Landry for Attorney General rather than the GOP incumbent, Buddy Caldwell. Party Chairman Roger Villere says they noticed how Landry performed in Congress and feel comfortable he is the right candidate to move forward with in the race.

 
"Well we just think Jeff is a better candidate and would do a better job as attorney general. We just feel like he has the leadership qualities and capabilities to do a better job."

Neither Landry or Villere would directly explain why Caldwell was not getting the endorsement. Landry's campaign says he is honest, ethical and hardworking. He says he has 80 days before the election to give reasons why he will be a better A-G than Caldwell.
 
"I think the Attorney General's office gives me an opportunity to show to the voters, especially to the time when trust in government is at an all time low, that they can trust their government."

The Louisiana Republican Party says this is the first time since 1991, when the party didn't support the Republican statewide incumbent. That year they endorsed Clyde Holloway over Governor Buddy Roemer. Villere says Landry's always been a strong supporter in the Republican party.
 
"We just feel like when you look at the overall body of work, you look at the individuals, we're very comfortable working with Jeff, we've worked with him for a long time, we feel like he would be the best candidate."
 
Here's a statement from Buddy Caldwell...
 

“The endorsement of Jeff Landry doesn’t change anything from our perspective. We would have welcomed the endorsement, but we weren’t counting on it. The state party has never endorsed me before, so it might have been bad luck to get it this time.

It’s unnerving to me that the statewide Republican Party would even think about endorsing someone who has never tried a civil or criminal case in court. I’m not sure, really, what his qualifications are.”

 
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern reporting.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s office says an 81-year-old man is booked on child rape charges which allegedly occurred in the mid-1980s. Warren Danos of LaRose is booked with Aggravated Rape. 


Sheriff's Office spokesman Brennan Matherne says they were contacted by a woman who claimed she was victimized by Danos as a child about 30 years ago.

"She alleged that Danos had inappropriate sexual contact with her when she was under the age of 10," said Matherne.

Matherne says a woman claimed the rapes took place between 1984-1986 when she was less than 10 years of age. He says detectives investigated and obtained a warrant for Danos' arrest.

"The did make contact with Danos and he did not give a statement to investigators and was arrested," said Matherne.

Danos was released after posting $5,000 bond.

 

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The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have cited two men accused of stealing over 500 alligator eggs valued at over $10,000.  LDWF spokesperson Gabe Giffin says agents observed 24-year-old Christopher Trahan of Lake Charles and 47-year-old Paul Canick of Grand Chenier taking alligator eggs from the marsh.


"They were told they had a collector's permit to take eggs.  While one of the gentlemen did have an egg collection permit, the area he was collecting eggs from, he was not permitted to be on."

He says agents seized the eggs from the pair.  Giffin says the department sold the eggs to an alligator farmer at market value.

"That money is put into an escrow fund.  In the case they were found innocent, their restitution would be that money back into their pocket."

Trahan and Canick are cited for illegal possession of alligator eggs and not following refuge rules and regulations.  First offense for taking unpermitted alligator eggs carries up to a $900 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Giffin says LDWF agents put in a lot of work to ensure cases like this are brought to justice.

"So, hats off to the agents involved in this in keeping Louisiana's natural resources precious and out there." 

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The July campaign finance report shows that Republican David Vitter has more campaign dollars on hand than his three gubernatorial opponents combined.  Vitter's campaign reports more than $5 million in cash on hand for this fall's election.  


Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this clearly shows Vitter's advantages over the rest of the field.
 
"He's a United States Senator, he's very well known, and he can raise lots of money as evidenced by his $5 million, which is more than double the rest of them."

Republicans Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle report $1.8 million and $1 million in cash on hand respectively, while Democrat John Bel Edwards reports $1.1 million.  Pinsonat says, at this point in the race, Vitter is the guy, but the others are hoping that will change.

"They're all hoping that after September the fourth, when people start paying attention, their money and their campaign will start making a difference."

Despite all of this fundraising activity, Pinsonat says you probably won't see a lot of ads or activity from these campaigns until Labor Day weekend.  He says that's when this governor's race will really kick off.

"We'll start finding out who really has an advantage and who's going to be in the runoff, we'll get a much better picture after September the fourth." 

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There have been three fatal police shootings in the last three days in Louisiana.  The latest occurred in Houma where a theft suspect was shot and killed by officers Monday afternoon.  State Police Trooper Evan Harrell says a pursuit ensued after a failed traffic stop.  


He says eventually, officers were able to stop the suspect's vehicle.
 
"The subject inside of that vehicle, a 45-year-old white male from the Houma area, actually stepped out of that vehicle and he pointed a weapon at the officers."

He says the traffic stop was initiated after a Terrebonne Parish deputy recognized the man as someone wanted for theft.  Harrell says officers were forced to take lethal action.

"The officers, in fear for their life, opened fire on the subject and fatally wounded that subject and he was pronounced dead on the scene."

Harrell says the State Police investigation is ongoing.  He says it's always difficult when police are forced to fire their weapon.

"Now all the officers involved are being debriefed and will be dealing with training and dealing with the situation that they were involved in." 

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