TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) - "I was crushed. It's just very difficult to fathom," says Tuskegee Mayor, Omar Neal.
Neal is in a tough position--trying to cope with the loss of a close friend.
"It's a sinking, sinking feeling that you'll never forget," he says.
He's also trying to stay strong for his city.
"This community is in mourning. This community is in shock."
His longtime pal, Dr. Adriel Johnson, was shot and killed by a colleague at the University of Alabama-Huntsville where he taught biology.
Neal says it was hard hearing how it happened, even harder knowing someone he's shared so much with is gone.
"We were boyscouts together, we played basketball and baseball, we camped out together as children."
But he's not alone.
If you ask most people in Tuskegee, they either knew, or knew of Johnson--including Frank Lee.
"[He's] just another great Tuskegeean. Ya know, Tuskegee has generated so many outstanding people. He was one of those that you could call a native son," says Lee.
But for Mayor Neal, the loss comes with a sense of responsibility--a call to shepherd his flock during a difficult situation.
"There is a place that I have to be in terms of being a statesman and being able to represent this city and being sobering enough that you can lead. But at the same time, I'm a human being that just lost a dear friend. "
Funeral arrangements are still pending for Dr. Adriel Johnson.
The City of Tuskegee is planning a memorial service.