The nation was shocked this weekend when a gunman in black tactical gear shot his way through the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The gunman, later identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley – a former airman who was discharged from the US Air Force for assaulting his wife and child – killed 26 and injured 20. Kelley later died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot after exchanging gunfire with a good samaritan who then followed him on a high-speed chase through traffic.
Now, that good samaritan has come forward.
His name is Stephen Willeford, a former instructor for the National Rifle Association (NRA), and he told his story to KHBS/KHOG television in Arkansas.
"It was surreal to me": Stephen Willeford, the man who shot the Texas church gunman, describes his experience https://t.co/DYea03zUpz— CNN (@CNN)1510017779.0
Willeford knew many of the members of the church so he didn't hesitate. He ran out without even stopping to put on his shoes.
@FoxNews Stephen Willeford, 55-year-old, known as an excellent shot in the small Texas town, “grabbed his rifle and… https://t.co/2gRhVmSVKp— John Jr 🔴 (@John Jr 🔴)1509967972.0
This didn't mean that he felt completely in control of the situation.
🎅 #StephenWilleford, the man who shot and hunted down the killer in the #TexasChurchMassacre https://t.co/hZGS1OoedE— Fred (@Fred)1510037336.0
As the pair exchanged gunfire, Willeford was able to get in a couple of shots.
Stephen Willeford showed courage in the face of danger. He didn’t need an assault weapon to shoot the guy who had one.— Geno Auriemma (@Geno Auriemma)1510060613.0
As Kelley drove away, Willeford flagged down a passing truck.The driver, Johnnie Langendorff, was on his way to his girlfriend's house when he noticed the gunfight. “I never got a look at him [the gunman]," Langendorff explained to the Washington Post. “I never really saw him. I saw the gunfire." Langendorff said Willeford "briefed me quickly on what had just happened and said he had to get him." "So that’s what I did."
The pair chased Kelley through traffic, all the while alerting the authorities, who were just now getting to the church.The high-speed chase reached 95 miles per hour until finally, Kelley's truck flipped and went into a ditch 11 miles from the church. Willeford told Langendorff to get down, then exited the truck and put his rifle on the roof, aimed at the gunman's car. He yelled, "get out of the truck, get out of the truck," but Kelley never did. Officials believe he had committed suicide.
Willeford is grateful to be alive after what he describes as a "surreal" and unnerving situation.
Make Stephen Willeford famous, not the psycho killer. #StephenWilleford is a hero.— Benji Whitehead (@Benji Whitehead)1509981655.0