COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In the past few days, John "Rusty" Houser has been described as a man with a dark past, who often displayed erratic behavior. But for one former church member of Houser's, those are not the characteristics of a man he has known since his youth.
Charles Adkins, 48, says Houser was by his side on many occasions throughout his lifetime.
"He came to visit me in the hospital. It was well with me and Rusty. We were good friends. He was a positive Christian influence when I was young - about the Bible and things like that," said Adkins.
Adkins says at one time point, Houser gave him a job painting houses in the East Highland neighborhood when he was unemployed in his 20s.
"He was a kindhearted guy and willing to give anybody an opportunity," added Adkins.
They also spent many times together worshiping inside Eastern Heights Baptist Church on 17th Street in Columbus. Adkins recalls Houser attending the church with his wife and daughter in the late '80s and early '90s.
"Kellie was a good friend of mine, his wife. Kirby, [Houser's daughter] I used to babysat his daughter when she was real young. She probably don't remember me. And Kellie was in the choir from me here at Eastern Heights," Adkins said.
Adkins says he hadn't heard from Houser in years, but was shocked to learn his friend and former church member was responsible for the Lafayette, LA shooting.
"That's not the Rusty I knew. Something must have triggered him off maybe he wasn't on his medicine. Rusty was mentally-ill and he kept it from his friends even me as well," Adkins said.
Adkins says he praying for all the victims involved, even Houser's family.