Man Who Stopped Shooter Breaks Silence

by Elizabeth Ruiz

The man who stopped the church shooter breaks his silence.

In an exclusive interview with ABC affiliate 40/29 News, Stephen Willeford says his daughter told him she heard shots coming from First Baptist Church.

“I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots, just ‘pop pop pop’ and I knew every one of those shots represented someone,” Willeford said.

The former NRA instructor grabbed his AR 15 and ran barefoot to the church. He took cover behind a truck and opened fire.

“I was scared for me, I was scared for every one of them. I was scared for my own family that lives less than a block away,” said Willeford.

He says Devin Kelley got into his vehicle and fired again. Willeford fired back and then the shooter went down the highway.

Willeford flagged down a pickup truck, told the driver what happened and they went after Kelley.

The driver, Johnnie Langendorff, chased Kelley at high speed until Kelley crashed into a ditch.

Willeford got out the truck, aimed his rifle at the vehicle and yelled at suspect to get out, but there was no movement.

Officers arrived on the scene and found Kelley dead. Investigators say he had been shot twice by Willeford and he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

He’s being praised for stopping the shooter, but Willeford says he’s no hero.

“I think my God, my Lord protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done,” Willeford said.

Several of his friends were in that church Sunday.

“I just wish I could have gotten there faster,” Willeford said.

Twenty-six people were killed, 20 others were injured.




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