An unnamed hero who heard gunshots at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church on Sunday, grabbed a gun from his home and started shooting at the suspected gunman as he exited the church, according to an eye witness.
Eyewitness Kevin Jordan who lives less than 50 yards from the church told KENS-TV that he was outside changing his car's oil when the masked gunman started his deadly assault.
Jordan said his neighbor, who he described as a man who would do anything for anyone, ran over with a gun then shot at the suspect while taking cover behind a car.
"If it wasn't for him, the guy wouldn't have stopped," Jordan told KENS-TV. He explained that his neighbor also shot through the suspect's car window as he sped off.
Freeman Martin, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director, confirmed that an armed resident engaged the suspect.
Another resident, Johnnie Langendorff, was driving in his truck near the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church on Sunday morning when he saw the two men shooting at each other.
"I pulled up to the intersection where the shooting happened. I saw two men exchanging gunfire, the other being the citizen of the community. The shooter of the church had taken off, fled in his vehicle, the other gentleman came and said we need to pursue him. And that’s what I did, I just acted," Langendorff told KSAT, a local TV station.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said services were underway Sunday at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs when the gunman, Devin Kelley, 26, dressed in black tactical gear, walked down the center aisle and began "shooting on his way back out." Kelley killed at least 26 — including several children — and wounded at least 10, law enforcement officials said.
In video broadcast by the station, Langendorff appears on camera with a small beard, cowboy hat and chewing a toothpick. He described seeing the Good Samaritan and helping him chase after the shooter. His account of events could not be immediately verified by USA TODAY.
"He was just a member of the community and he came to my vehicle in distress with his weapon," Langendorff said of the member of the public, who was not named, who asked him to give chase to the alleged shooter Sunday. "He explained very quickly what happened. He got into the truck and I knew that it was time to go.”
The sheriff said he has spoken with the neighbor who is being credited with chasing the gunman down.
“Other than he does not want to be talked to… he doesn’t believe he’s a hero, but I believe he is,” Tackitt said, adding that the man doesn’t want to speak to any media.
Julius Kepper, 53, heard the shots from his home about two blocks from the church. He said his next door neighbor is the man who fired at the shooter.
"He's a good working man," Kepper said, adding that he does not know him well. "A union plumber."
The duo soon caught up with the suspect, Langendorff told KSAT.
"He got a little bit of a jump on us. We were doing about 95 (mph) down (Route) 539 going around traffic and everything. Eventually he came to a kind of a slowdown and after that we got within just a few feet of him and then he got off the road," he said.
“He just lost control. That is when I put the vehicle in park and I was still on the phone to dispatch (police). The other gentleman jumped out and has his rifle drawn on him. He didn’t move after that,” he added. "We led police to him. Everybody else was headed to the church, all the other officers were responding to the church. From the time we actually stopped, it was about five to seven minutes. The police arrived and then they pushed us back and they took care of the rest. I didn’t see anything after that."
Langendorff, whose Facebook page was filled with messages praising his courage and for being an "American hero," added, "I was trying to get him, to get him apprehended. It was strictly just acting on what the right thing to do was."
Authorities did not immediately identify a motive for the attack. Kelley served briefly in the Air Force but was court-martialed in 2012, a military spokeswoman said. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said officials were cautiously releasing information on the shooting as they confirmed it, including the names of victims, who ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old.
Contributing: John C . Moritz USA Today Network Austin Bureau; Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY; Elly Dearman, Corpus Christie Caller-Times