COLUMBUS, Ga. – John “Rusty” Houser, the man who police said killed two people before taking his own life in a Louisiana movie theater, has a local criminal background that dates back nearly three decades.
In 1989, Houser was indicted on an arson charge. Former Columbus attorney John Swearingen said Houser tried to hire a man to burn down his law office.
Swearingen said the man Houser tried to hire was a police informant who told police of Houser’s request. He said police wired the informant information during a meeting he had with Houser to discuss specifics of the plan.
“Talk about the payment and how he would pay it and what he wanted and that’s when he came and said well don’t hurt anybody. I don’t want anybody killed, but if Swearingen dies, it wouldn’t bother me,” Swearingen told News Three.
He said he was representing a movie theater owner charged with the possession of pornography when Houser was targeting his office. Swearingen said Houser believed God told him he should punish Swearingen.
Swearingen said Houser received mental treatment for one to two years following the arson indictment. He said Houser’s doctor cleared him after this treatment in belief that he would not be a danger to the public.
Swearingen told News Three the grand jury voted for a no bill, which dropped the arson charge per his request.