Theater Shooter Bragged About Brutally Hurting Animals

<p> Lafayette Police Department </p>
<p> Lafayette Police Department </p>

John Houser, the man who killed two people and injured nine in Lafayette, Louisiana, last week, before turning the gun on himself, abused animals in the past, a woman revealed to The New York Daily News.

Bonnie Barbier is speaking out about a harrowing encounter with Houser just five days before the tragic theater shooting in which Houser approached her at a Lafayette bar and began petting her two dogs.

He told Barbier that sick animals should not be humanely euthanized, but killed with an ax, and regaled her with a story of how he killed his sick cat with a steel pipe. "It was a very scary moment," Barbier told the Daily News. "He was kind of acting it out. He clenched his fist and shook his body. He was almost in tears telling this story. It was twisted."

A history of abusing animals often goes hand in hand with cruelty to human beings. Many mass murderers have been revealed as animal abusers, from "the Boston Strangler," who shot trapped cats with arrows in his youth, to Columbine High School students-turned-shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who spoke to their classmates about mutilating animals.

A poll of inmates at several federal prisons showed that 70 percent of prisoners locked away for violent crime had abused animals in the past, often starting in childhood. Only 6 percent of prisoners for nonviolent crimes had a history of animal abuse.

The Lafayette shooter's twisted past is a reminder that animal cruelty isn't just outrageous and sad; it also shows how dangerous some people can be - for all animals, human and non-human.

You can help prevent animal cruelty: The ASPCA has 10 tips on how.