Texan Who Engaged Shooter Shares His Story [VIDEO]

Amber Athey Podcast Columnist
Font Size:

The Texan who engaged the Sutherland Springs church shooter is finally sharing his story.

Stephen Willeford, who is described as a former NRA instructor, grabbed an AR-15 when he discovered a man was shooting up the church and ran to the scene to stop him.

“I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots – just ‘pop pop pop pop’ and I knew every one of those shots represented someone, that it was aimed at someone, that they weren’t just random shots,” Willeford told 4029 News.

“He saw me and I saw him. I was standing behind a pickup truck for cover,” Willeford said. “I know I hit him. He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”

Ken Leonard, who is Willeford’s cousin, shared what Willeford told him of the shooting during a CNN interview on Monday afternoon.


Leonard said Stephen’s daughter drove by the church to see what was happening after hearing the gunshots, and came home to tell her father that a man in black was shooting people.

“Stephen went into his safe, grabbed his AR…grabbed a handful of ammo and a magazine, and was running barefooted toward the shooting,” Leonard said. “[Stephen] said he was loading the magazine as fast as he could, he didn’t even know how many rounds he had put in the magazine.”

When Stephen arrived to the church, Kelley had come outside and seemed to be reloading. Stephen noticed that Kelley was wearing a body armor vest, so he decided to aim for Kelley’s side.

“That’s where he shot him the first time,” Leonard said. “The man dropped the weapon when he was shot and went and forced his way into an SUV and he pushed him into the passenger side.”

“As he was doing that, Stephen shot him again in the neck….and that’s when Stephen shot him a third time in the neck again,” he continued.

Willeford was able to hitch a ride with local resident Johnnie Langendorff and the two men pursued Kelley in a high-speed chase. Eventually Kelley came to a stop, and Leonard said Kelley was dead by the time Willeford approached the vehicle.


 Follow Amber on Twitter