Sara Crochet and Natalie Hartzell, friends|REUTERS/PAUL KIEU/POOL1/2
Sara Crochet and Natalie Hartzell, friends|REUTERS/PAUL KIEU/POOL
John Russell Houser, a/k/a "Rusty", and one of his vitriolic postings.2/2
John Russell Houser, a/k/a "Rusty", and one of his vitriolic postings.
Facing a possible showdown with thousands of outraged Louisiana mourners, members of the vilified Westboro Baptist Church stayed away from the funerals of the two young women killed in a Lafayette movie house by an unhinged gunman.
The Kansas church, which was labeled a hate group by the Souther Poverty Law Center, is perhaps most notorious for picketing the funerals of American soldiers while carrying signs blaming everything wrong in the world on the LGBT community.
Westboro members had threatened to stage their antics at Monday'sfinal farewells for 21-year-old bride-to-be Mayci Breaux and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson, who owned a boutique gift shop with her husband of two years.
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The Alabama man who shot the two to death last Thursday inside a multiplex had expressed admiration for Westboro in his various online rants that described America as a "cesspool."
John Houser, 59, fatally turned the .40 caliber handgun he used in his rampage during Amy Schumer's "Trainwreck" on himself when cops approached him soon after the bloodbath that left nine others injured.
Multiple cryptic tweets in the Westboro Twitter feed made mention of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's vow to cuff them if they showed up, but there was no clear explanation for why they stayed away.
"They better not try that nonsense here," Jindal said Sunday on CBS on "Face the Nation." Church members' criticism of Jindal on Twitter included the hashtag "#godsenttheshooter!"
Thousands of locals had also signed an online petition vowing to stand in the Westboro members' way.
Thefuneral for Breaux was held without incidentin at the Church of the Assumption in her hometown of Franklin. The engaged victim was a student at Louisiana State University who wanted toan ultrasound and radiology technician.
Services for Jillian Johnson were held at a Lafayette funeral home.