As early as 1989, officials developed concerns about the mental condition of Lafayette movie theater shooter John Houser.
Following charges of criminal solicitation against Houser for the attempted arson of a lawyer’s office, a Georgia judge ordered a mental evaluation for Houser, according to court documents.
"The mental competency of the above Defendant has been called into question, and evidence presented in the matter, and this court has found that it is appropriate for an evaluation to be conducted at the expense of the Defendant's,” the judge wrote in June 1989.
He said he wanted to know "whether or not the accused had the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong in relation to the alleged act; whether or not the presence of a delusional compulsion overmastered his will to resist committing the alleged act."
The court files do not say what the conclusion of the evaluation was, but Houser was indicted by a grand jury two months later on the criminal solicitation charges for trying to pay someone to burn down the Columbus, Georgia, law office of John Swearingen. The person Houser tried to solicit turned out to be a police informant, Swearingen told NBC News on Friday.
"He was very intent on burning down the law office. He was some kind of religious fanatic and as I recall he said God told him to do it," Swearingen said. The former attorney added that he had "represented somebody — maybe several people — he did not like."
Houser opened fire at a Louisiana movie theater Thursday night, killing two people and injuring nine before he killed himself, police said. Police are trying to determine a motive in the shooting.
Court documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.