Some Phenix City residents shocked, others not surprised by theater shooter’s violence

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PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WHNT)-- At suspected Louisiana theater shooter John Russell Houser's former neighborhood in Phenix City, things are quiet right now. Neighbors say they're usually that way.

But they tell us when Houser left his house on 32nd Street, things were anything but quiet.

"The way he left the house, he was clearly not someone who was thinking straight," said Rick Chancey, who lives next door to Houser's former home. "Something had to be wrong."

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor describes the house as "vandalized" after Houser was evicted, and went back in to do some damage: "Cement in the plumbing. Some tampering of the gas line that ran into the fireplaces."

"The way he had it rigged... I don't know, we're 200 feet from his house. I don't know if it would have blown this far or not, but it certainly did cross my mind," said Chancey, suggesting that Houser had intended some form of explosion.

As investigators continue to work leads across Louisiana and into Alabama, residents in Phenix City go to bed Friday with heavy hearts.

"You just feel bad for everybody," said Chancey. "There's nothing to say. You hate it was somebody from our area."

"It's unbelievable to think somebody from here would do something like that," said Sheriff Taylor, referring to the Louisiana shooting. "We just are truly praying and thinking about the victims in this case and hoping that this kind of action stops."