On Sunday, deranged gunman Devin Kelley killed 26 people and injured dozens more at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and it is believed the carnage could have been far worse had it not been for the quick-thinking response of Stephen Willeford. The 55-year-old former NRA instructor lived across the street form the church and immediately jumped into action when he heard shots fired. On Thursday, cell phone video emerged of an emotional Willeford recounting his experience to police.
In the footage, which was recorded by fellow hero Johnnie Langendorff, Willeford’s hands were visibly shaking as he told an officer how he was able to hit the gunman with “some well-placed shots.” The 27-year-old Langendorff had been driving in his pickup truck near First Baptist Church in the midst of the massacre, when Willeford flagged him down and told him what was going on. The two men proceeded to pursue Kelley for about 10 miles, calling 911 on the way to let them know the suspect’s whereabouts.
Watch the video below (applicable content begins around 10-minute mark):
Ultimately, they watched as the the alleged gunman lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a ditch. In his conversation with the police, it appeared as though Willeford believed his wounding of Kelley may have cause the car crash.
“I can’t think of any other reason why he took that sign out and ended up in that ditch,” he said.
At that point, Langendorff panned the video down to show Willeford’s bare feet. The man had been in such a hurry to get to the crime scene, he hadn’t even bothered to put on shoes.
“That’s my house, right across from the church,” Willeford explained. “I was home when I heard the shots. I didn’t know what was going on. God I had to get into my safe.”
“I chased [Kelley], and this man was on the corner in his truck,” Willeford then told the officer in reference to Langendorff. “I said, ‘That’s the guy.’ I jumped in the car with him and gave chase.”
Clearly just beginning to come to terms with what had happened, Willeford then turned his attention to Langendorff, thanking the complete stranger for agreeing to help.
“I don’t even know you man,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
At that point, dozens of police cars had surrounded Kelley’s SUV, which was a few hundred feet down the road. The officer asked the two brave men to wait where they were for further instruction, but not before Whilleford asked Langendorff if he could borrow his phone to let his family know he was alright.
“Please let me call my wife and my family,” he asked.
(H/T: Daily Mail)