PHOTO: NY Daily News
I still can’t wrap my head around the entirety of the events that unfolded in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday. I’m ashamed that we live in a world where this is seemingly becoming the norm.
But, in all of the tragedy, there’s one man who stands as a hero. That’s Stephen Willeford. He’s the man who grabbed his rifle and engaged the gunman while he fired upon churchgoers.
Stephen was at his home, not too far from the church, when he daughter came running in screaming about hearing gunshots. Without hesitation, Stephen grabbed his own rifle and ran outside barefoot over to the church. He saw the shooter, took cover behind a truck and fired back. Eventually, hitting him in the leg and torso.
The shooter got into his truck and sped away. At that point, Stephen saw a stranger in his truck at a nearby intersection, jumped into and told the driver, Johnie Langendorff, what had just happened. Johnie responded, “Lets go!”
The two chased after the shooter’s truck, exceeding speeds of 90 mph. The whole time, Stephen and Johnie were on the phone with 911, giving them exact updates and the pursuit.
Eventually, the gunman lost control and veered off into a ditch. At that point, Stephen jumped out of the truck, aimed his rifle at the shooter and yelled for him to exit this own vehicle. At this particular time, the gunman was already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Had Stephen Willeford not heroically stepped in, who knows what else could have happened. He doesn’t think of himself as a hero, just as someone doing the right thing. Willeford said, “I think my Lord protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done.”
It takes an extraordinary amount of bravery to jump into action like both Stephen and Johnie did. At the very least, they deserve a Bull Man Moment recognition.