When chipmunks got into Terry Ratzmann's garden, he set up traps to catch them. But his neighbor said he kept the animals alive and let them loose somewhere else.
"He couldn't even kill a chipmunk. He was that kind of individual," said Gene Herrmann, who lived next door to Ratzmann for about 30 years.
Ratzmann arrived at the service late on Saturday, armed with a handgun, and opened fire. His victims included the pastor and his teenage son.
Chandra Frazier, who was at the service, said the gunman started shooting shortly after it began, and that he even stopped to reload.
She said she was sitting in front of a "family he mowed down."
"It was mayhem," she told reporters outside the hotel. "I dove under a chair, the man whose chair I dove under died. I'm asking myself why am I still alive."
Ratzmann was described by neighbors as quiet and devout.
He liked to tinker about his house and garden, said Shane Colwell, another neighbor who knew Ratzmann for about a decade.
Ratzmann lived with his mother and sister in a modest, two-story brown home about 2 miles from the suburban Milwaukee hotel where police say he opened fire during a service of the Living Church of God. Police were interviewing them on Sunday.
Ratzmann went to church every Saturday, Colwell said.
"He wasn't a dark guy. He was average Joe," Colwell said. "It's not like he ever pushed his beliefs on anyone else."
But a church member who was at the service when the shooting took place said Ratzmann seemed depressed to her. Frazier told CBS News that Ratzmann was upset by an earlier sermon from another preacher.
Ratzmann built his own greenhouse, and neighbors said he shared his homegrown vegetables with them. Colwell said Ratzmann raised trout and designed a system in which he used trout waste to fertilize his greenhouse plants — including tropical plants and Venus flytraps — then recycled the water back to the fish tank. He also built his own garage.
A week ago, Colwell helped Ratzmann fix his truck. Herrmann said he took good care of his house and three dogs.
"He never bothered anybody around here," he said.
"He brought me over a zucchini that was about foot-and-a-half long," Colwell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We ate it for a week."
Robert Blasczyk, another resident of Ratzmann's modest New Berlin neighborhood, said Ratzmann was a drinker, but that he could not believe he might be violent.
"He was the quietest guy in the world, the nicest," said Blasczyk. "I would have never believed this in a million years."