Police officials said at a news conference Friday that 59-year-old John Russel Houser's arrests date 10 to 15 years ago or more. Those include charges of arson and selling alcohol to a minor.
He had been married once in the past but was not currently married.
In Alabama, records show Houser had four speeding tickets and one no-seatbelt ticket between 1981 and 2003.
Alabama court records show Houser filed a small claims court lawsuit in 2004 claiming he was injured when he donated plasma at a Phenix City donation center. He asked for $1,800 to pay his emergency room bill and for a narcotics prescription.
The case was settled, according to court records.
A 19-year-old college student who was watching a movie in a theater across the hall from the shooting says he heard three loud pops before the lights came on.
Jacob Broussard said Friday that he didn't initially know there was a shooting, but as he was evacuating the theater, he saw a woman who had been shot in the leg.
Authorities say a gunman stood up about 20 minutes into the movie and started firing, killing two women and wounding nine others.
Broussard, a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, says he felt lucky.
His father, Shannon Broussard, described gratitude for a teacher who apparently pulled the fire alarm to alert theatergoers that they needed to evacuate the building.
And the two victims have been identified as 33-year-old Jillian Johnson and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux.
The gunman killed himself after trying to flee the scene.