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Two men hailed as heroes for chasing down Texas church shooter

by Mickey McLean
Posted 11/06/17, 05:36 pm

Johnnie Langendorff was driving to his girlfriend’s house Sunday morning when he approached the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, where he saw two men exchanging gunfire in front of the church. One of the men, dressed in black, drove off in a pearl-colored SUV. The other man, who was barefooted, approached Langendorff and quickly explained the situation. “He jumped in my truck and said, ‘He just shot up the church, we need to go get him,’” Langendorff told the Associated Press on Monday. “And I said, ‘Let’s go.’” The Dallas Morning News identified the barefooted man who confronted Devin Patrick Kelley—the suspect accused of killing 26 adults and children, including an unborn baby, and wounding 20 others—as Stephen Willeford, 55, a plumber who lives near the church. “I didn’t want this and I want the focus to be on my friends,” Willeford told reporter J. David McSwane. “I have friends in that church. I was terrified while this was going on.” According to his neighbors, Willeford is known as a “free spirit” who enjoys guns and motorcycles. Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said the man now identified as Willeford was armed with an “AR assault rifle and engaged” the shooter. The 27-year-old Langendorff, who is from Seguin and did not know Willeford, said he and his armed companion chased the suspect’s vehicle at speeds approaching 90 mph while staying in close contact with law enforcement. Kelley’s SUV eventually ran off the road and crashed near the county line. Langendorff said Willeford approached Kelley’s vehicle with his rifle, but the suspect did not move. Police officers, who arrived on the scene five minutes later, found Kelley dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Asked if he felt like a hero, Langendorff said, “I don’t really know how I feel. I just hope that the families and people affected by this can sleep easier knowing that this man is not breathing anymore and not able to hurt anyone else. I feel I just did what was right.”

Editor’s note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct number of deaths in Sunday’s shooting. On Tuesday, Nov. 7, officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety said their count of 26 deaths included the unborn child of Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant when she and three of her other children were killed.

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Mickey McLean

Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.

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  • Fuzzyface
    Posted: Mon, 11/06/2017 08:30 pm

    I think these two guys are heros - especially the neighbor in socks.  Good thing the upstanding citizens could own guns.  Otherwise we could have a situation like there is in Mexico.

  • Daniel Strange
    Posted: Mon, 11/06/2017 10:19 pm

    The Second Amendment (A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed) to the Constitution of the United States is in place for two reasons: one, for defence against the US Militia if and when the need arises, and two, for times such as this. Christians of America should pray nationally for citizens, policemen (and policewomen), and state and federal government alike for wisdom in times like this, just like those at the Constitution Convention, thanks to Ben Franklin.

    In my mind, these two men are heros, no matter how unsung they are.

    P.S.: What is up with the seemingly random use of capitalization and punctuation in the Constitution and Declaration?

  • OldMike
    Posted: Wed, 11/08/2017 01:09 am

    In my book these guys are Heroes. These two didn’t run away and hide, they acted to stop the carnage. There are many nations, and now several states, where these men would be subject to arrest, confiscation of their firearms/vehicles/etc., possibly even permanent loss of their rights to own firearms. Too many politicians in this country think that’s the way it should be for all of us. 

    It’s only a shame these Heroes weren’t present when the shooting started, to perhaps save more lives. 

  • TxAgEngr
    Posted: Wed, 11/08/2017 04:19 pm

    Stephan Willeford did a 30 minute interview with Steven Crowder on Youtube and it is worth watching.  Willeford, a confessing Christian, truly demonstrated his love for his friends by grabbing a combat weapon and ammunition and running barefooted to the church to try to stop the killing.  Willeford seriously wounded the shooter which caused him to flee the scene and decide to take his own life in the end.  We will never know what other carnage the shooter may have had in mind, but at least Willeford saved the police the risk of an armed confrontation.