The shooting at a Baptist church that left 26 people dead was ended when an armed citizen took action and shot the assailant through a gap in his body armor. Police are now confirming that Devin Kelley’s rampage was ended by Stephen Willeford, a local plumber, who happened to be near the church when the shooting took place.
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Willeford is being hailed as a hero. His actions may well have stopped further bloodshed. Willeford is not a member of the church where the shooting took place, but he his daughter called him and told him there was a man in body armor shooting up the church.
Willeford grabbed a rifle and answered the call. He found Kelley (above) outside of the church and shot him. The surprise caused Kelley to drop his rifle, and the shooter then ran to his own SUV and fled the scene.
Johnnie Langendorff was also responding. Langendorff picked up Willeford and the two gave chase. They followed Kelley in a high speed chase and eventually caused Kelley to lose control and run off the road. There, police say Kelley shot himself in the head.
Texas Department of Public Safety chief Freeman Martin acknowledged the role Willeford played in ending the shooting. Willeford “grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect,” he said officiously.
“I pulled up to the intersection where the shooting happened and I saw two men exchanging gunfire,” Langendorff said, “the other being a citizen of the community.”
“The shooter of the church had taken off, fled in his vehicle, and the other gentleman came and he said, ‘We need to pursue him,’ that he just shot up the church. So that’s what I did. I just acted.”
“He was just a member of the community, and whenever he came to my vehicle in distress with his weapon, he explained very quickly what happened and he got in the truck and I knew it was just time,” Langendorff added.
“So we were doing about 95 mph, going around traffic and everything,” he added.
“Eventually he came to kind of a slowdown and after that, we got within just a few feet of him and he got off the road. He just lost control and that’s whenever I put the vehicle in park.”
“It’s like he just gave up. He just kind of went off in the ditch, hit a hay bale from what I could see, and then he just never moved after that,” Langendorff said.
“The gentleman that was with me got out, rested his rifle on my hood and kept it aimed at him, telling him to ‘Get out. Get out.’ There was no movement. There was none of that.”
“So he might have been unconscious from the crash or something like that,” he said. “I’m not sure.”
The police wouldn’t arrive for seven minutes.
“It was a horrible tragedy,” Langendorff said, “but I hope the families affected can sleep a little better at night knowing that he was taken care of.”
“He just hurt so many people, and he just affected so many people’s lives,” Langendorff said. “Why wouldn’t you want to take him down?”