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Stephen Willeford, man who shot Texas church gunman, talks about the shooting

Speaking through tears, Stephen Willeford, the man some are calling a hero for engaging in a shootout with the Texas church gunman on Sunday, says he was afraid for his life but that he believes God gave him the skills needed to face the shooter.

Willeford, 55, said he was at his Sutherland Springs home on Sunday when his daughter told him that she had heard gunfire at the nearby First Baptist Church. A former National Rifle Association instructor, Willeford grabbed his rifle and ran barefoot across the street to open fire on the gunman who killed 26 people at a smalltown Texas church.

“I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots – just ‘Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!’ – and I knew every one of those shots represented someone, that it was aimed at someone, that they weren’t just random shots.

“He saw me and I saw him. I was standing behind a pickup truck for cover.

"I know I hit him. He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again," Willeford said.

As the shooter sped away, Willeford said, he ran to a pickup truck stopped at an intersection and told the driver: “That guy just shot up the Baptist church. We need to stop him.”

The driver, Johnnie Langendorff, said he had been driving to Sutherland Springs to pick up his girlfriend when a man who had been exchanging gunfire with the gunman suddenly landed inside his truck.

“There was no thinking about it. There was just doing. That was the key to all this. Act now. Ask questions later.

“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 any more and not able to hurt anyone else. I feel I just did what was right,” Langendorff said.

Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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