By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ANS – July 24, 2015) – Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are on the ground in Louisiana following last night’s mass shooting at Lafayette’s Grand 16 movie theater.
According to news reports, the gunman killed two people in the attack before taking his own life.
According to the Washington Times, the gunman “was so mentally ill and violent that years ago, his wife hid his guns and his family had him hospitalized against his will before obtaining a court order to keep him away.”
He has been named as John Russel Houser, 59, who stood up about 20 minutes into the “Trainwreck” movie and fired first at two people sitting in front of him, then aimed his handgun at others. Police said today (Friday, July 24, 2015) that they found 13 shell casings.
“Intense chaos and trauma follow a tragedy like this, not just for those who were in the theater facing a life-and-death struggle, but for the entire community,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Our trained and experienced chaplains will minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of those traveling through the valley of grief and suffering. Please pray for everybody who has been devastated by this shooting.”
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was formed in the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since that time, the crisis-chaplaincy ministry has come alongside and supported survivors following more than 15 shooting-related tragedies, including the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and school shootings at Newtown, Conn., Virginia Tech University and Northern Illinois University.
“Shootings have a terror-filled and utterly hopeless nature to them,” said Munday. “Whereas you can often see a natural disaster brewing, there is no warning with a shooting. You have one individual who desires to do great harm to others. The immediacy of the situation, coupled with the debilitating fear it brings and the sudden loss of life, causes so much pain and angst across a wide spectrum of people.”
In addition to the response in Lafayette, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team currently has chaplains in Johnson County, Ky., following widespread flooding there.
For more information on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/BGRapidResponseTeam.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team:
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of chaplains in 48 states who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 200 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.
Media Contact: Erik Ogren, (704) 401-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo captions: 1) The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team sent chaplains to Lafayette, Louisiana, after a deadly movie theater shooting on July 23. (Photo: BGEA). 2) John Russel Houser, the alleged gunman who killed himself. 3) The Billy Graham Rapid Response team in prayer. 4) Dan Wooding with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in Montreat, North Carolina.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has radio and TV programs based in Orange County, California. He began his journalistic career back in 1968 with Billy Graham’s UK newspaper, The Christian, and later worked as part of Mr. Graham’s media team in crusades in Moscow, Russia; Essen, Germany and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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