Free Press Journal

Texas church shooting: Man who chased down shooter hailed as hero

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AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO

Houston: A motorist is emerging as a hero in the Texas church shooting as he along with another man pursued the heavily armed gunman in a high-speed car chase after the deadly attack, preventing more casualties.

The gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelly 26, who was sporting a ballistic vest, opened fire on a small-town Texas church during the Sunday service, killing at least 26 people and wounding another 20.

Johnnie Langendorff was driving down near the church on his way to his girlfriend’s house, when the local man who too was armed with a rifle sought his help to pursue Kelly and prevent further mayhem. Reacting to the incident, US President Donald Trump, who is in Japan, said it was fortunate that another person on the scene had a firearm, otherwise “it would have been much worse.”


Trump said it was fortunate that another person on the scene had a firearm, otherwise “it would have been much worse.” Langendorff said not much was running through his head when the local man, whom he did not know, explained to him the situation, according to KSAT television news channel.

“The gentleman with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off, and he briefed me quickly on what had just happened, and said that we had to get him and so that’s what I did,” Langendorff said.

The chase ensued after the man exchanged gunfire at the church with Kelley, who then fled the scene.

“He just hurt so many people, and he just affected so many people’s lives … Why wouldn’t you want to take him down?” he said about the attacker.

Langendorff told the channel that they chased the shooter for nearly 18-km and went up to a speed of over 150 kmph before Kelley’s car crashed and the police arrived. Langendorff stayed on the phone with dispatch as they drove, giving them updates on their location and direction, letting them know the vehicle was in sight and they were getting closer and closer.

Then, near the intersection of Hartfield and Sandy Elm roads, Kelley appeared to lose control of his SUV.

“It’s like he just gave up. He just kind of went off in the ditch, hit a hay bale from what I could see, and then he just never moved after that,” Langendorff said.

“The gentleman who was with me got out, rested his rifle on my hood and kept it aimed at him, telling him to ‘Get out. Get out.’ There was no movement. There was none of that.”

Langendorff said Kelley’s brake lights were going on and off.

“So he might have been unconscious from the crash or something like that,” he said. “I’m not sure.”

It took about five to seven minutes for the police to arrive on the scene. According to a news release from Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Kelley was found dead inside the vehicle. The cause of death is still under investigation.

“It was a horrible tragedy,” Langendorff said, “but I hope the families affected can sleep a little better at night knowing that he was taken care of.”

DPS Regional Director Freeman Martin said the man’s shooting caused Kelley to drop his weapon. Martin could not immediately confirm if the attacker got hit by the man but said it was safe to say his actions saved lives and prevented more mayhem.