Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

A pair of moviegoers who were in the theater directly across the hall from where suspected gunman John Russell Houser opened fire at a Louisiana multiplex on Thursday night recalled the chaos of the scene on TODAY Friday.

"I heard three pops, and then following those three pops about 10-15 seconds later, that's when the sirens went off and the P.A. system said for everyone to evacuate the building,'' Jalen Fernell, 20, told Matt Lauer.

"While we were outside the building, I was closer to the building, and I did hear a bunch of gunshots, so any of those gunshots could have been (the gunman) taking his life."

RELATED: What we know about the victims

Officials say the 59-year-old gunman, who police identified as a "drifter" from Alabama, stood up during the screening of "Trainwreck" at about 7:30 p.m. local time and started firing in a theater filled with about 100 people before ultimately taking his own life.

Two people are confirmed dead in addition to the shooter, and nine others were wounded. The bomb squad also had to be called in when police found something suspicious in Houser's car.

"I normally don't go to the movie theaters very often, it's the first time I've gone in a while, and it was definitely one of the last things I expected,'' Keifer Sanders, who was with Fernell in the other theater, told Lauer. "I was with my brother and a friend, and when the P.A. went off, that's the first thing I said. It was just that I had an odd feeling, I feel like there's a shooting or something."

"I've never experienced anything like this before,'' Fernell said. "It was the last thing I thought would happen when my friends texted and said, 'Let's go to the movies.'"

The shooting occurred a week after James Holmes, who shot and killed 12 people at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, was convicted of 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges after opening fire during a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal praised the heroism of some of the patrons, including one who he said was a schoolteacher who shielded a friend from a potentially fatal bullet and another who he says was able to pull the fire alarm after being shot.

Amy Schumer, the star of "Trainwreck," reacted to the shooting on Twitter.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.