SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – Two citizens chased down the Texas church gunman Sunday after massive bloodshed had occurred. One of the men who said he helped run the shooter off the road is being hailed as a hero for potentially preventing more casualties after the deadly shooting.
Texas Church Gunman Tracked by Citizens
Johnnie Langendorff told Fox San Antonio he decided to track down the killer after seeing the gunman, Devin Kelley, exchanging fire with another member of the community. That person, who hasn’t been identified, reportedly shot Kelley during the encounter.
The mass shooting unfolded around 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. At least 26 people were killed and 20 wounded. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old.
Kelley is described as a white man in his 20s who was wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest when he pulled into a gas station across from the First Baptist Church around 11:20 a.m.
He crossed the street and started firing a Ruger AR rifle at the church, said Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Safety, then continued firing after entering the white, wood-frame building, where an 11 a.m. service was scheduled. As he left, he was confronted by an armed resident and another man who chased him. A short time later, the suspect was found dead in his vehicle at the county line, Martin said.
Confrontation With Suspect
Langendorff said he arrived at an intersection near the church and witnessed Kelley and the other man engaged in a gun battle. He recognized one of the men from the community.
“I pulled up on the intersection and I saw the shooter coming from the cars, actually right outside the church his vehicle was parked, doors open, engine running and him and the neighbor across the street and exchanging fire,” he said.
Langendorff said he was unable to get a good look at the gunman, but just “saw the gunfire.”
As the shooter got in his truck, Langendorff told Fox San Antonio the other man quickly briefed him on the tragedy that just occurred.
“The shooter got in his truck, the gentlemen with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off, and he briefed me quickly on what had just happened and said we had to get him, so that’s what I did,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t you want to take him down.”
– Johnnie Langendorff on encounter with suspected killer
Following a brief chase, the two caught up with the gunman.
Citizens Pursue Shooter
“We just take pursuit, we speed over 87 through traffic and hit about 95 going down 539 trying to catch this guy until he eventually lost control on his own and went off in the ditch,” Langendorff said.
Police arrived within five to seven minutes to the location where the shooter was stopped. “We led police to him,” Lagendorff told Ksat.com.
Fox News Report
‘He Just Hurt So Many People’
Langendorff said he was not aware at the time of the chase the shooter had additional weapons in his vehicle and that he might have prevented more deaths.
“He just hurt so many people,” he said. “And he just affected so many people’s lives, why wouldn’t you want to take him down?”
“I just did what I thought was right.”
Johnnie Langendorff pursued suspect Devin Kelly after hearing about the Texas church shooting. pic.twitter.com/98BXRETH4u
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 6, 2017
Motive Is Unclear
A possible motive was unclear. Kelley lived in a suburb of San Antonio and didn’t appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The official said investigators were looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday’s attack, including one that appeared to show a semiautomatic weapon, reported Fox News.
A spokesperson with the U.S. Air Force confirmed to Fox News that Kelley served in the military branch at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until a bad conduct discharge in 2014.
He was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child, and when he was discharged received 12 months of confinement and a reduction in military rank.
(Photo: Screenshot Fox News)