Texas resident Stephen Willeford, who exchanged fire with mass shooter Devin Patrick Kelley during his attack on a Sunday worship service, is breaking his silence and telling his full story.
Willeford has spoken with several media outlets since the tragic event took place, but recently sat down for a lengthy interview with conservative commentator and comedian Steven Crowder. The two spoke for almost 40 minutes, with Willeford detailing his chase of Kelley and the events leading up to it.
On what began as a typical Sunday morning, worshippers gathered in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The quiet rural town (population 700) is about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio and consists of modest homes, trailers and very few streetlights.
Across the street at a Valero gas station, at approximately 11:20 a.m., witnesses noticed a man dressed in black tactical gear and ballistic vest step down out of a Ford Explorer.
Fifty people were assembling to pray at the church, a few still mingling outside, most already in the sanctuary. In a matter of moments, more than half the congregation lay dead, another twenty people wounded, many critically, mowed down in a relentless spray of bullets from a Ruger AR-15 in the hands of a hate-filled coward. In an instant Sutherland Springs Texas became the site of the deadliest church shooting in modern American history, and the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
Suspect Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, gunned down several people outside the church; killing two then proceeded inside where he continued firing and murdered 23 more innocent people. A 26th victim died later.
20 victims are hospitalized, 10 in critical condition, 4 listed in serious condition and 6 considered stable. Victims ranged in age from a one year old to 72 years, with grandparents and their grandchildren dying in the attack. Eight members of one family, spanning 3 generations lost their lives; a pregnant woman was amongst the murdered, as was the daughter of the pastor.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. described the inside of the church as “a horrific sight”. Visibly shaken, he added, “12 to 14 of those injured or killed were children.” No one inside the church was armed at the time of the attack, the sheriff said. “People from this community would never think this could happen.”
As the murderer fled the church he was confronted by area resident Stephen Willeford, 55, a Good Samaritan armed with a rifle who engaged Kelley in gunfire, injuring the suspect despite the tactical covering he wore. Kelley dropped his weapon and fled to his truck but Willeford followed, barefoot, hailing a truck driven by Johnnie Langendorff, 27.
Willeford quickly explained, scrambled into the truck and the two men gave chase, following Kelley as he sped away. Langendorff stated their speed went close to 90 a few times before Kelley lost control of his vehicle and it left the road. Willeford exited their truck, steadying his rifle on the hood and calling out for Kelley to get out of the car, but the men heard no response. Langendorff said that he and Willeford were in constant communication with dispatch throughout the chase.
When police arrived on the scene and approached the suspect’s vehicle, they found Kelley dead. It appeared he had shot himself in the head, but an autopsy will reveal if he died of a self-inflicted wound or as a result of Willeford’s shot. Officials state that Kelley used his cell phone to call his father during the chase. Kelley allegedly told his father that he’d been shot and ‘didn’t think he was going to make it.’
Watch Willeford’s full conversation with Crowder below:
~ Liberty Planet