November 20, 2015
On Thursday, July 23, 2015, at 7:29 p.m., tragedy struck at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette. A lone gunman opened fire in a darkened movie theater. Medics, police and firefighters responded and treated seven injured, while three lives were lost, including the gunman’s.
On Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 6:35 p.m., joy and laughter returned to The Grand as residents waited in line to purchase tickets for showings of The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part II, the Peanuts Movie, Spectre, and other new releases. The theater interior has been fully remodeled, and features new carpeting and seating, along with a bold, fresh coat of paint on the exterior.
Two fire trucks held a large American flag over the parking lot, creating a striking image for patrons and passersby alike. Parked next to the fire trucks were two Acadian Ambulance units, paying honor to all the first responders.
Under the theater’s pavilion, City-Parish President Joey Durel marked the occasion with a brief ceremony and ribbon cutting. He thanked the first responders, including theater employees, for their hard work during a chaotic time. “Let’s give a really big round of applause to the first responders, who respond to anything,” he said, and the audience cheered loudly. He added how members of national media commented to him that Lafayette’s response to this tragedy was unlike anywhere else they’ve seen.
Victim Mayci Breaux’s hometown pastor, Reverend Lloyd Benoit, led the crowd in prayer, and blessed the theater before patrons were let inside. Pastor Ben Davis from Pathway Church led the closing prayer.
As her young daughter Amelia excitedly eyed the bright movie posters outside, moviegoer Julie Está said, “It’s about family tonight. It is fun to be here, but it is overwhelming with emotions!” She thanked Acadian and sent her prayers to all of the medics and dispatchers who responded.
Prior to the ceremony, restaurant Mellow Mushroom held an appreciation party for first responders from Acadian, law enforcement and the fire department. “It was the least we could do for the community,” said Managing Partner Todd Moffatt. A large crowd enjoyed free pizza, sandwiches, soft drinks and cookie cake. Medics Daniel Menard, Orlando Rolon, Danielle DAugereau, Roy Payne, Brent Hill, Matt Guillory, Ryan Iossi, Kevin Buller, Jeremy Courville, John Witt, Sierra Pellerin and Hunter Domingue, Materials Management’s Ashley Bajat, and NEMSA’s Corey Potier were able to attend the party and ceremony. Many of them were involved in the response, both on scene and in dispatch.
John said, “The outpouring of support from the community has been amazing. It’s a night we’ll never forget, especially as first responders. But tonight shows that we aren’t going to let that event overshadow the good things that happen here. The reopening needed to happen.”
Sierra remarked that she tries to stay focused on the lives they saved. “You just have to stay positive,” she said.
Randall Mann accompanied his daughter Emily on a tour of the theater with other Theater 14 survivors earlier this week. “It was moving because a lot of them sat in the seats – of course, they’re all brand new seats – but they sat where they were, and it was almost as if they were saying, ‘I’m reclaiming my territory.’ That was really nice,” he said.
Joey said it best when he closed the ceremony, “Now, let’s go a see a movie!”
And that’s exactly what the crowd did.
Since 1971, Acadian has been committed to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. In the past decade the company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services designed to offer the very best support and education in health, safety, and transportation. Acadian’s six divisions are Acadian Ambulance Service, Acadian Total Security, Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems.