Who Is Louisiana Theater Shooter John Russell Houser?

Trainwreck Shooting: Who is John Russell Houser?
John Russell Houser
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07/25/2015 AT 11:25 AM EDT

Before John Russell Houser opened fire in a Shreveport, Louisiana, movie theater on Thursday night, he displayed signs of mental illness and troubling behavior for several years.

On April 21, 2008, police responded to his Georgia home on a "mentally disturbed person" call. When they arrived, Houser's wife, Kellie, explained that he had a history of mental problems.

In the police report, family members said that Houser had "exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements."

Alarmed, his wife removed guns from their home.

According to the documents, Houser had a history of mental illness, including "manic depression and/or bipolar disorder."

In other court documents, Houser was accused of trying to burn down a Georgia attorney's law offices in the 1980s.

"I represented somebody he did not like, and he tried to hire someone to burn down the law office," the attorney, John Swearingen, tells NBC News. "The man was a police informant and they got it on tape."

While most family members refused PEOPLE's requests for interviews, a cousin says that Houser was estranged from the family.

"I haven't spoken to him in years," said the cousin. "He wasn't close with anyone."

A Checkered Work History

Despite his troubled past, Houser presented himself as an ambitious entrepreneur online.

Holding a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting, he enrolled at Faulkner University College of Law. Although he claimed to have graduated from law school in 1991, Faulker University gives a different date of graduation.

"Faulkner University confirms that John Russel Houser was a student at Jones School of Law beginning in the fall of 1994," the school tells PEOPLE in a statement. "He graduated in the spring of 1998 prior to the law school receiving ABA accreditation."

It does not appear that he ever practiced law.

Instead, Houser says he made his money from real estate investment – and claimed to be able to have a special intuition.

"I am never less than fascinated to see what others do not," he wrote on his LinkedIn Page.

Disturbing Online Comments

Houser was a prominent commenter on several political websites, often decrying the "filth" of the American way of life.

"Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the US," he wrote on one forum.

On another forum, he admired the way that radical Muslims stood for their beliefs. "Muslims are alone in shutting down liberals that mock their God, he wrote. "They have my complete Christian respect."

"People are fed false information by being programmed as drones from the media," he wrote on yet another forum. "There is no hope. Nada."

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