John Houser stole campaign signs, arrested in 1996

John Houser stole campaign signs, arrested in 1996

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The mass shooter in the Lafayette movie theater shooting had an extensive criminal record.

John "Rusty" Houser was apprehended for theft by taking in October, 1996 in Columbus.

Harvey Milner, former CPD officer, noticed Houser picking up campaign signs at the corner of Woodruff Farm and Macon Roads around 9:30 that morning.
"He had actually parked on the side of the road and I initiated a traffic stop and got behind him and asked for his driver's license at which time he showed me his driver's license and I asked him, 'why are you removing these signs?'" explained Milner.

News Leader 9 obtained a copy of the police report from Houser's arrest. In it, he states the signs were put there illegally and that he had permission from the owner to remove the signs from the property.

According to Milner, the case went before the court the next day and Houser was fined by the judge.

Milner also described Houser's demeanor during the arrest: "He was frustrated that I was detaining him and asked if I knew his father was the tax commissioner."

Houser's father, Rembert Houser died while in office in the mid- 80s. His son wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps. John Houser ran for the same office in 1996 against tax commissioner Lula Huff—stealing her campaign signs, according to the police report.

Huff released a statement adding, "It was much more than just stealing, but more of an obsession. We lost hundreds of signs and it was if they were following you around and if they knew where you were going to be. If we were anywhere north of Macon Road, it was in a matter of minutes that the signs were gone."
We also obtained a Muscogee County Superior Court document showing criminal solicitation charges against John Houser for allegedly trying to set embattled former Columbus attorney John Swearinger's 3rd Avenue office on fire in 1989.

The case was not billed by the grand jury.

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