Two Texas men are being touted as heroes after they chased down a man who killed 26 churchgoers on Sunday morning during worship service.
KSAT 12 reports that after shooter Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire at churchgoers at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, he fled to his truck, but 55-year-old plumber, Stephen Willeford, confronted the gunman as he attempted to escape.
Willeford took out his own gun and shot at Kelley, wounding him as he made a direct hit into his side, in between Kelley’s body armor.
— IndyStar (@indystar) November 6, 2017
According to Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin, Willeford ran barefoot with a rifle in his hand and “engaged the subject.”
Willeford wasn’t in attendance at the church, but he ran to the scene after his daughter called him and told him someone had shot numerous people.
Johnnie Langendorff, 27, noticed the gunshots and ran over to help as well. As Kelley sped away, Langendorff got into a vehicle and chased after the suspect. Langendorff told Good Morning America that Willeford, a man he didn’t previously know, jumped in the truck with him before he began a high-speed chase in pursuit of Kelley.
“The neighbor with the rifle came to my truck and he opened my door and said, ’He shot up the church,’ and got in. He said, ‘chase him’ so that’s what I did. I just chased him….It seemed everybody had headed up to the church. I’m not sure if anybody really realized that he had left and gone that direction.”
A high-speed chase ensued, resulting in Kelley losing control of his truck and crashing it off-road. When authorities arrived, the suspect was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Authorities are still waiting on official confirmation from the medical examiner’s officer before announcing the cause of death.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 6, 2017
“That’s when I put the truck in park,” Langendorff said. ‘The other gentleman jumped out, and had his rifle on him. He didn’t move after that.”
On Monday, authorities announced that the suspect contacted his father shortly after the shootings and told him he didn’t think he was going to “make it.”
Neither Langendorff nor Willeford were injured. Police indicated that without their efforts, the gunman, who was found with several weapons and explosives inside his car, may have ended up killing more people.
“There was no thinking about it,” Langendorff said. “There was just doing. That was the key to all this. Act now. Ask questions later.”
[Feature Photo: Facebook]