In the aftermath of the Texas church massacre, two men are being hailed as heroes after they shot and chased the gunman in an attempt to prevent more bloodshed.
Johnnie Langendorff was at an intersection near First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs when he saw the gunman, Devin Kelley, exchanging fire with a 55-year-old local resident, Stephen Willeford, who reportedly shot Kelly.
“I pulled up on the intersection and I saw the shooter coming from the cars, actually right outside the church his vehicle was parked, doors open, engines open and him and the neighbor across the street and exchanging fire,” he told Fox News.
Willeford is a former National Rifle Association instructor, who grabbed his rifle and ran to open fire on Kelly, who killed 26 people in this mass shooting, reported The Guardian.
“He saw me and I saw him,” Willeford said during an interview with the television stations KHBS/KHOG. “I was standing behind a pickup truck for cover. I know I hit him. He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”
When Kelley got into his truck, Willeford came over to Langendorff, who had parked his pickup truck at an intersection. Willeford briefed Langendorff on what just happened and told him they needed to get Kelley.
“The shooter got in his truck, the gentlemen with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off, and he briefed me quickly on what had just happened and said we had to get him, so that’s what I did,” Langendorff said.
The two brave men then took off and chased Kelley until he lost control of his vehicle.
“We just take pursuit, we speed over 87 through traffic and hit about 95 going down 539 trying to catch this guy until he eventually lost control on his own and went off in the ditch,” Langendorff said.
Willeford got out of the truck and yelled: “Get out of the truck! Get out of the truck!” But there was no response. Langendorff said that the police arrived within five to seven minutes. “We led police to him,” he told KSAT.
Police found Kelly dead in his vehicle with one self-inflicted gunshot to the head. According to CNN, the regional director of the Texas Department of Safety, Freeman Martin, said while citing autopsy results that Kelly was shot in the leg and torso by an armed citizen, who is none other than Willeford.
When asked about his brave act, Langendorff said, “I did what I thought I needed to do. They said that there’s a shooting. I pursued and I just, just did what I thought was the right thing to do.”
“He just hurt so many people,” he said. “And he just affected so many people’s lives, why wouldn’t you want to take him down?”
The worst mass shooting in Texas history took a total of 26 lives, eight of which were from one family. At least a dozen children were among the victims. One of the victims was pregnant, so officials included the unborn baby she was carrying in the death toll, reported The New York Times.