Those who monitor extremist groups said John Russell Houser, the shooter in the Lafayette, La., theater shooting, had characteristics of a white supremacist but didn’t easily fit the mold described this year in a series by The Star. He appeared to be an angry man upset at what he perceived to be a moral decay that was decimating the country.
In recent years, Houser had posted numerous comments on politically oriented websites and online forums. In some cases, his statements were extremely anti-American, describing the United States as “the enemy of the world.”
Among his models of good leaders, according to the Anti-Defamation League, was Adolf Hitler. Houser wrote early this year that Hitler “accomplished far more” than any other leaders. He also claimed that “decent people can retake the entire world, as Hitler proved.”
Houser appeared to hold similar views regarding former KKK leader David Duke, the ADL said. In 2013, he wrote that “at one time (Duke) appeared exactly what the U.S. needed.”
Houser also admired the Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi political party, describing it in a 2014 comment as “composed of moral people.” He said its ideas were “a legitimate effort to solve problems” and praised their leaders as “intelligent, well-spoken and exercising good faith.”
Mark Pitcavage, the ADL’s director of investigative research, said a preliminary examination shows that Houser did not appear to be extremist in the sense of adhering to the ideology of a specific group or movement.
“The specific collection of beliefs he assembled to form his twisted worldview is peculiar to him,” he told The Star on Friday. “He did admire a number of right-wing extremist groups or individuals — from Adolf Hitler to David Duke to Greece’s neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn — but seemingly as people whom he thought would or could have cleaned up the moral decay he saw everywhere.”
Pitcavage said Houser was vehemently racist against blacks, claiming they refused to work and had no moral values, but not against other groups such as Hispanics and Muslims, about whom he held the opposite beliefs.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Friday that Houser appeared to be “caught up with a number of far-right ideas” and was fascinated with the “lone wolf” concept.
The center examined dozens of messages that Houser left on Internet message boards, finding that they “provide a picture of a politically disaffected, angry man who viewed the United States as a ‘financially failing filth farm,’ expressed interest in white power groups, anti-Semitic ideas, the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, as well as a number of conspiracy theories often espoused by the anti-government right.”
In a June 2013 post on Twitter, Houser said that “the Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America (members not brainwashed).”