LAFAYETTE, La. — Randall Mann, an EMT, got word of the tragedy when his daughter burst into his family’s backyard.
“There’s a shooter!” she screamed. “There’s a shooter!”
About 300 people were in the building when John Russell “Rusty” Houser shot 11 people in a Lafayette, La. cinema on Thursday night. Twenty-five tickets had been sold for the room in which two people were killed. Mann’s daughter was one of them.
Mann’s daughter had made it out alive.
She quickly promised her father she was fine. She’d had a red stain on her shirt that she assured him was ketchup. She had dashed out of the theater, rushing to her home half a mile away with her best friend who was at the movie with her.
She’s fine but shaken up, according to Mann. “It wasn’t like every man for themselves,” Randall said she told her father after the shooting. “Everyone was saying, ‘We have to get out of here.’ It was like, ‘Let’s help each other get out of here.’”
Mann, Acadian’s vice president of marketing and public relations, left his yard once it was clear his daughter was okay. He arrived at the scene a short time later to two police cars and two ambulances already at work.
His colleagues started helping two victims who made their way out on their own power. Then he helped direct other ambulances and medical personnel who began arriving.
“The medics went in when the police gave us the all clear, and then got the victims out quickly,” he said. “It was not a chaotic scene.”
That’s when dozens of police arriving from different agencies showed up, said Mann, grabbing their assault rifles, and vests.
“It was a scary site,” he said. “We drill for this all the time, but we hope we’ll never be able to use it.”
Acadian staff set up a triage area just outside Theater No. 14 to treat the patients quickly.
After the all cleared was given by police, medics hurried inside.
The night before, the police chief described the crime scene as “horrific.” Mann said his family is lucky the community is set up with good trauma counseling in the area—which he thinks his daughter might seek it after experience.
He hopes that knowing the killer wasn’t from here—an outsider to Lafayette—will help her and the families of the victims find some closure.
“What happened doesn’t represent Lafayette in any way,” Mann said. “Our whole community is a victim here he said.”
Dee Stanley, Chief Administrative Officer Lafayette Consolidated Government, said Friday he has already received hundreds of calls offering condolences and offers for help, but asked the public to stay away from the area.
There have been requests to set up a memoriam at the site, and Stanley says that will happen eventually.
Mann says he and other first responders are already talking about being the first to fill the audience when the theater reopens.