SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX (KHBS/CNN) – A good Samaritan, credited for shooting and chasing the man who killed 26 people in a Texas church Sunday, says he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
Former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford, who lives near the First Baptist Church, says his daughter came into his bedroom to tell him she heard gunshots.
Willeford got his rifle out of his safe, loaded his magazine and ran across to the church, still barefoot.
“The people in that church, they’re friends of mine. They’re family. And every time I heard a shot, I knew that that probably represented a life. I was scared to death,” Willeford said.
When Willeford saw the gunman, they exchanged gunfire, and Willeford says he knows he hit the man.
Then, the gunman got in his car and sped down the highway.
Willeford saw a pickup truck and ran over to ask the driver – identified as Johnnie Langendorff – for help. The two men chased after the gunman’s vehicle and soon caught up to it.
The gunman’s vehicle flipped after hitting a road sign and went into a ditch before law enforcement arrived.
Officials believe the gunman committed suicide.
Willeford says he doesn’t consider himself a hero. His family has lived in the Sutherland Springs, TX, area for four generations, and he had numerous friends who went to the church.
“I was scared for me, and I was scared for every one of them. And I was scared for my own family that just lived less than a block away. I’m no hero. I think my God, my Lord protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done. I just wish I could have gotten there faster, but I didn’t know. I didn’t know what was happening,” Willeford said.
The mass shooting killed about 4 percent of the small town’s population, and according to the sheriff, almost everyone at the church was injured.
Those killed range in age from 17 months to 77 years old.
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