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 eyewitness.
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 his truck near the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church on Sunday morning when he saw the shooter and another man exchanging fire. Langendorff told The Caller-Times that the Good Samaritan hopped into his vehicle and they followed the gunman as he tried to escape.
"The other gentleman got in my vehicle and said, '[the gunman] just shot up the church. We've got to get him.'" Langendorff told The Caller-Times. "I said 'let's go."
Langendorff and the other man followed the gunman until he lost control of his vehicle. Langendorff said he hasn't had time to talk with the good samaritan and is not sure if he shot the gunman.
Langendorff said he was on the phone with 911 while they were chasing the gunman.
"I was trying to keep the other gentleman calm, I told dispatch I was in pursuit of the (gunman) to make sure the cops knew exactly where he was," Langendorff.
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.
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."
In another interview, Langendorff told KSAT that the high-speed chase last five to seven minutes.
"He got a little bit of a jump on us," he told the station. "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."
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."
Multiple fatalities in Texas church shooting
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