NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor Mitch Landrieu calls GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Metairie a friend and said an attack on any elected official is an attack on the country. Scalise formed enduring relationships while serving in the state Legislature.
"He is a strong fighter for the City of New Orleans," Landrieu said.
Though a Democrat, political labels have not stood between Landrieu and Scalise, a Republican from the neighboring community of Metairie.
"I served with Steve for 10 years in the Legislature. He is a dear friend. His wife, Jennifer, and their kids, Mattie and Harrison, share time at Mardi Gras with Cheryl and I and our kids," Landrieu said.
Landrieu cancelled his usually highly-produced State of the City address, which was scheduled for mid-morning Wednesday and called for collective prayer for Scalise.
"We send our prayers. The first responders responded and glad that it was not a worse event than it is," said New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett.
Fellow Republicans were stunned by the incident.
"It's really - it hurts, you know? They're in our prayers for him and his family. He's got them young children, and we just hope that he gets well and everything is going to be fine," said Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere.
Villere has known Scalise and his parents for decades.
"Long political career, you know, he worked with us at the state party. I've known him since he's very young," said Villere.
Longtime and now retired state lawmaker Peppi Bruneau served with Scalise in the Legislature.
"Helped him with his first campaign, he's just a fine, fine, dedicated young man, and it is truly a tragedy to happen to anyone, and in particular to Steve… Steve was a good, hard-working, conscientious and friendly member of the Legislature. He was well-liked across the board politically by everyone," said Bruneau.
Landrieu said New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, was on a field nearby with his young son when the shooting happened.
"With his baby boy, Cedric. He is fine and continues to offer his thoughts and prayers to his really, really dear friend and colleague. He served in the Legislature and now in Congress. …In this particular instance, Steve and his guys were practicing because Cedric was about to pitch against him, and it's one of the real highlights for them in how they actually get together," Landrieu said.
"I know him and Cedric get along great together. He reaches across the aisle, he's friendly," said Villere.
And they hope the incident will tug at hearts and result in less caustic political rhetoric and animus on social media.
"It plays on people's minds, and you get a reaction from one side to that, and then you get an acceptance from some people on the other side to that and you get a nut case like this who committed this atrocity and those sorts of things have an effect on a person like that," said Bruneau. "Maybe we'll come together, maybe this will bring people and maybe it'll stop some of the over-the-top rhetoric you hear from both sides."
"This is not a partisan issue. Any attack on any elected official, anybody that works for the government because you're upset with the other side, is an attack on our entire country," said Landrieu.
Villere was asked whether more security is needed for Congress.
"I think there is some real concern for security," he said.
"All of these things put everybody, you know, on high alert. You saw the increased security last week with a lot of the episodes that we have. We will all take necessary security precautions," said Landrieu.