CHICAGO - A gunman opened fire at a movie theatre in the US state of Louisiana late Thursday, fatally shooting two people and wounding seven others before killing himself, police said.
The shooting comes as a jury deliberates the death penalty for the gunman in a 2012 theatre massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 70 injured.
"Whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence it makes us both furious and sad at the same time," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told reporters.
"There's no good reason why this type of evil should intrude on the lives of people who are just out for entertainment." Police said they have identified the shooter as a 58-year-old white male, but did not release his name.
He opened fire randomly on fellow movie goers about 30 minutes into a showing of "Trainwreck" at the Grand 16 theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana witnesses said.
About 100 people reportedly were in the theatre when the gunman opened fire with a handgun.
Jindal met with some of the victims at a local hospital and said praised their heroism.
One teacher threw herself in front of her friend to shield her from the bullets. The friend was shot in the leg, but managed to "have the presence of mind" to pull a fire alarm in an effort to warn others of the danger, Jindal said.
"Even in the worst of times, it brings out the best in people," Jindal told reporters.
Lafayette Police chief Jim Craft said officers were able to respond within a minute of the first call for help.
"Four officers entered the theatre to engage the shooter," he told reporters.
"They did hear shots being fired at the time. What they found upon making entry was it appeared the shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound." Some of the seven people being treated at hospital were in critical condition, he said. Others have non life-threatening injuries.
The Louisiana shooting comes almost exactly three years after James Holmes, 27, opened fire on a packed screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, in a meticulously-planned attack during which he wore body armour and used tear gas to prevent victims from escaping.
Comedian Amy Schumer, who stars in "Trainwreck" swiftly offered her condolences.
"My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana," she tweeted.
Television images in Lafayette showed a hectic scene at the cinema, which was surrounded by dozens of emergency medical vehicles and police cars.
"It was crazy, chaos everywhere," witness Jacob Broussard told CNN.
Broussard was watching a movie across the hall when the sirens went off and the lights came on.
A voice came over the intercom asking people to evacuate the building as quickly as possible. As he was leaving, Broussard heard three shots. When he got outside, he saw a woman bleeding from the leg and realised something awful had happened.