Former Pittston Mayor, Friend of Wounded Congressman, Shocked by Shooting

PITTSTON -- The congressman from Louisiana shot Wednesday morning near Washington D.C. has ties to our region.

U.S. Representative Steve Scalise is a close ally of a mayor from Luzerne County.

Former Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo grew up in New Orleans. He's been friends with Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana since they were in elementary school.

Lombardo says he wasn't prepared for the news he heard early Wednesday.

"'My wife called me and said, 'You have to come downstairs.'''

Michael Lombardo saw video of the shooting's aftermath then learned his lifelong friend from childhood, Congressman Steve Scalise, was shot.

"When it's somebody you know, boy, you start thinking about all those things. You don't know how serious it is," said Lombardo.

U.S. Representative Lou Barletta of Hazleton has played in the congressional baseball game the last six years. He decided not to this year.

But he can't help thinking about what would happen if he changed his mind and showed up to practice this morning

By phone from Washington D.C., he told Newswatch 16 he feels both lucky and horrible.

"It doesn't make me feel any better because these are my friends, and to think that members of Congress could be sitting ducks like that, and what could have happened today is very, very sad for me," said Rep. Barletta.

"It's just a rough day," said Lombardo.

Lombardo is a Democrat and is thinking about his childhood friend, the Republican congressman from Louisiana.

Lombardo and Scalise's friendship included attending each other's weddings and helping each other's political careers.

'You look at Steve, he's moved up through the ranks. He's experienced some difficult things. He's been through Katrina."

Lombardo is also thinking of the long and painful recovery his friend faces.

"The divide has never been uglier and bigger than it is. So whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, you need to wake up.," he added.

Lombardo and Congressman Barletta both believe the anger-filled atmosphere of politics has a harder edge than ever though they can't say it sparked this shooting.

Both hope this incident gets Democrats and Republicans to dial down the rhetoric.