How Stephen Willeford & Johnnie Langendorff were able to stop the First Baptist Church shooter, Devin Kelley and become local heroes.
Stephen Willeford, 55 & Johnnie Langendorff, 27, two Sutherland Springs locals have been hailed as heroes for stopping the man responsible for the worst ever mass shooting in Texas which left 26 dead.
The men’s praise comes after Willeford had initially confronted gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, as he was leaving First Baptist Church, wounding him, before he and Langendorff, whom Willeford had motioned to as he pulled up in his vehicle, giving pursuit to Kelley as he fled in his SUV car.
Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said Willeford, a keen biker, had ‘grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect’.
Willeford, who attends a different church, was first alerted to the shooting when his daughter called him saying there was a man in body armor gunning down church goers during mass.
From there, the local plumber grabbed his gun and headed down to confront the gunman.
While Willeford may have had no military experience, he was able to get an ‘excellent shot’ according to the resident, upon coming face to face with Kelley. Willeford told the dailymail he’d been to shoot the fleeing assailant in between his body armor, hitting him in his side.
From there, Kelley dropped his Ruger assault rifle as he got in his SUV and fled.
At this point Langendorff, who also witnessed the confrontation, jumped in his truck with Willeford in the passenger seat, with both men giving chase.
In a Facebook post, Langendorff’s girlfriend Summer Caddel described how the pair had ‘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!’
Stephen Willeford kept his rifle trained on the fleeing gunman.
Langendorff told KSAT 12 that he’d been speeding at 95mph, while on the phone to dispatch, while Willeford kept his rifle trained on the gunman’s car over the course of an eleven mile chase.
As they approached a sharp curve in the road, near the 307 and 539, he said Kelley appeared to lose control and his car swerved off the road.
‘That’s when I put the truck in park,’ he said. ‘The other gentleman jumped out, and had his rifle on him. He didn’t move after that.’
Caddel added that Kelley died within a few feet from her boyfriend.
Kelley by then had succumbed to blood loss from the gunshot wound he suffered at the hands of Willeford at the church.
‘He was bleeding pretty bad,’ the resident said of Kelley. ‘He didn’t live much longer than that.’
Neither Langendorff nor Willeford were injured.
Devin Kelley dead after a loss of blood: Self inflicted or gunshot wound?
Director Martin confirmed that police had found Kelley dead, saying that: ‘We are not sure if it was self inflicted or if he was shot by a local resident.’
Cops also found multiple weapons and possible explosives in Kelley’s vehicle.
Caddel said she was ‘beyond thankful that my boyfriend chased that sick ass down before he did anymore damage.’
Langendorff, of Seguin, Texas, worked at NAPA Auto Parts, according to his Facebook page which has been swamped with words of praise from people hailing him as a hero for his part in taking down Kelley.
Told the hero in interviews upon having initially been approached by Willeford, ‘I didn’t know him at all.’
Adding, ‘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 [to go].’
Kelley had a head start, but they pursued him regardless.
‘He got a little bit of a jump on us,’ Langendorff said, noting how they called police as they were chasing him.