UPDATE 11/06/17 11:50 AM: The armed good Samaritan has been identified as Stephen Willeford, a sharpshooting plumber with no military or law enforcement background.
According to The Telegraph, 55-year-old Willeford lives near the church and grabbed his rifle after his daughter told him she heard gunfire. Recent reports believe that one of Willeford’s bullets may have passed between a gap in Kelley’s armor and struck the suspect in the side. The wound caused Kelley to then drop his rifle and flee the scene in his SUV.
Investigators have not yet confirmed whether the fatal wound was self-inflicted or caused by Willeford.
On Sunday morning, Texas suffered the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history when a lone gunman murdered 27 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. “Were it not for a local resident who confronted the gunman, the deadliest shooting in Texas history could have claimed even more lives,” CNN wrote in an article.
A local resident grabbed his own rifle and engaged the gunman, said Freeman Martin, the regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle and fled from the church,” said Martin, adding that the resident then chased the gunman.
“What do you say to the man who stepped up when he heard the gunshots? I’d say he’s a hero,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Jr. told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. Had he not done what he did, we could have lost more people.”
Johnnie Langendorff was driving to his girlfriend’s house when he passed the church and saw the shoot-out between the armed resident and the mass murderer, later identified as Devin Patrick Kelley. As Kelley attempted to flee the scene, the armed resident ran to Langedorff and asked for help. Together, the two heroes began chasing the shooter for 11 miles.
“The vehicle was in sight and I was picking up, getting closer and closer to it. We hit about 95 (mph) … trying to catch this guy until he eventually lost control on his own and went off into the ditch,” Langendorff told CNN. “The gentleman that was with me got out and rested his rifle on my hood and kept it aimed at him (the shooter), telling him to get out. There was no movement, there was none of that. I just know his brake lights were going on and off, so he might’ve been unconscious from the crash or something like that. I’m not sure.”
The shooter “just gave up” near the county line and crashed his Ford Explorer. Police arrived a few minutes later and found the gunman dead, possibly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or a shot fired by the armed resident.
During the gun fight outside the church, Kelley dropped his Ruger AR-15 style rifle and fled the scene. Police believe he either accidentally shot himself in the chest or was wounded by the armed resident. “We are not sure if it was self inflicted or if he was shot by a local resident,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin.
Langendorff’s girlfriend Summer Caddel is incredibly proud of her boyfriend and his new friend. “They jumped in my boyfriend’s truck and they chased that sick b*****d down in pursuit until the cops could catch up. He was able to run the shooter off of the road on 539!” she wrote on Facebook.
According to Langendorff, he and the unnammed good guy with a gun pursued Kelley at speeds over 95 mph. While purusing the shooter, Kelley remained on the phone with police dispatch giving them directions.
Langendorff met with ABC News for an interview in the video below.
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