On November 5th in a quaint town called Sutherland Springs, TX, at least 26 churchgoers were killed in a mass shooting, leaving another 20 injured. The killer was Devin Kelley, a 26-year-old local and former member of the Air Force. Investigators are still searching for a motive behind the tragic massacre.
The shooting left absolute devastation in its wake. Authorities originally revealed that at least 25 people had been killed, but now that number has increased to 26. The ages of the victims ranged anywhere from 5 years to 72 years, but witnesses from the shooting claim that an infant just under a year old was also killed. According to The Washington Times, over a dozen of the victims were children and one family lost a total of 8 members accounting for three generations.
Stephen Willeford, 55, lives nearby the affected Baptist church. He was sleeping in his home the morning the shooting took place, but awoke to the sound of gunshots, clearly from an automatic assault weapon. He armed himself with his rifle before leaving his home.
The Daily News reports that Willeford pursued the killer as he emerged from the Baptist church and shot him in his side. Kelley ran to his car to flee the scene while Willeford ran to another stranger, Johnnie Langendorff, 27, and explained what was happening, rifle still in hand. Langendorff let Willeford into his truck and chased Kelley at speeds up to 95 miles per hour for a good 10-15 minutes until Kelley eventually lost control of his SUV and crashed into a ditch. After crashing, Kelley was pronounced dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
Willeford and Langendorff are now being hailed as heroes in Sutherland Springs for their crucial role in putting a stop to the killer. Donald Trump recognized how thankful he was that someone on the scene was armed and stopped the shooter from causing any more harm. Otherwise, the massacre could’ve been “a lot worse.”
According to The Washington Times, Kelley’s reason for killing over two dozen innocent church members is unclear. In an interview on “The Today Show,” Texas Governer Greg Abott (R) states, “I don’t think this is a random act of shooting, a randomly chosen location, but obviously someone who is very deranged.” The local authorities are also uncertain of what could’ve possibly ushered in a mass shooting of such magnitude–the deadliest in the state’s history.
Former high school classmates of Kelley recall him as being very “creepy” and an adamant denier of any religion, but especially Christianity, according to The Daily Mail. Nina Rosa Nava, a former classmate, recalls, “He was always talking about how people who believe in God we’re [sic] stupid and trying to preach his atheism.”
Donald Trump has since come forward and said that the recent mass shooting in Texas is not a gun control case, rather an issue about mental illness. NBC News writes that at the joint press briefing in Tokyo, when asked if we should consider implementing less lenient gun control laws, Trump said, “mental health is your problem here” and claimed that Kelley was a “very deranged individual [with] a lot of problems over a long period of time.”
Records show that Kelley had applied for a gun ownership permit and was later declined by Texas law because of his discharge from the Air Force on counts of domestic abuse against his wife and child. Thus, the already tight gun control laws seemingly had no affect in Kelley’s ability to obtain an assault weapon, but critics remain skeptical.
Despite the fallout of this devastating shooting, Langendorff’s girlfriend Summer Caddel reveals to reporters that the small town immediately came together as a tightly-knit community to mourn the fallen victims. In difficult times like these, the best we can do is give our condolences to the families affected by this tragic mass shooting.