Hero recounts how he put 'well-placed shots' in church killer

Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr said that at least 27 people have been killed in the shooting but the death toll is expected to climb

The neighbor being hailed as a hero for preventing even more carnage in the small Texas town was a longtime NRA member and former instructor who pulled out an AR-15 to engage the mass murderer. In an emotional interview with CRTV's "Louder With Crowder" on Monday, Stephen Willeford described the gunfight and dramatic auto chase that ensued to stop the shooter from slaughtering additional churchgoers.

"I was panicking because I heard the return fire - I heard and I couldn't quite see him", Stephanie said.

"I stopped his aggression and made him run", says Willeford, who taught his kids to shoot by the time they were 8-years-old. Willeford then took cover behind a pickup truck and returned fire at the shooter until Kelley fled in his pickup truck.

But in a recent interview, the retired plumber who engaged shooter Devin Kelley freely admits he's no Superman. Kelley fatally shot 26 people and had just exited First Baptist Church when Willeford surprised him.

"Law enforcement was responding, so we know that a local resident that lives across the street from the church heard what was going on", Martin continued. "I just wished I could've gotten there faster". Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"As in with all active shooter situations, the number one goal of law enforcement is to neutralize the shooter", Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at a press conference Monday.

"Avid gun collector, a good guy", Kepper said.

Willeford's family has lived in the Sutherland Springs area for four generations, 40/29 News reported.

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He called Willeford a "free spirit" sort who loves motorcycles despite losing both parents to a motorcycle crash when he was a young adult. "I ran out with an AR-15 and that's what he was shooting the place up with".

Willeford also said that he hid behind a truck, exchanging gunfire and hitting Kelley and that when the gunman fled, he and John Langendorff chased him in a vehicle.

"Just like everybody else around here".

"He jumped in my truck and said, 'He just shot up the church".

Willeford came to a vigil Monday night in honor of the victims. He lauded the "ordinary citizen" who engaged the gunman. "We need to go get him.' And I said 'Let's go, '" Langendorff said.

Still, Willeford proved a reluctant hero.

"Those people are my friends".