Issues

Texan Who Helped Stop Church Gunman Recounts Exchange of Gunfire: ‘I Was Scared But I Knew Something Had to Happen’

Stephen Willeford, the first civilian responder to the shooting at a church in Texas on Sunday, has given his account of the confrontation with the gunman as he fled the scene.

In an exclusive interview with a local ABC affiliate on Monday, Willeford described shooting at the gunman, Devin Kelley, after hearing gunfire and wanting to stop whatever was occurring.

"I don’t think he expected to see any resistance," Willeford said. "He saw me and we exchanged gunfire."

The Sutherland Springs, Texas native said Kelley was shooting at cars and houses across the street as well.

"I saw his side, and that’s what I shot for," Willeford said. "I don’t know that’s where I hit him, but I knew that that would be where that tactical gear would not cover."

The "Texas Hero," as the TV station calls him, said he was barefoot and unaware of the gravity of the situation at the time.

"This is my town, this is my home," Willeford said. "I was scared like you can’t even imagine. I was scared, but I knew something had to happen because I love those people there. I love the people that are in there."

Willeford said he still does not know everyone who lost their lives at the hand of this gunman, but he’s sure some of them are his friends.

Reporter Joshua Cole said Willeford does not consider himself a hero and his only hope is that those around the country are praying for his town.

Kelley opened fire on a church in the small Texas community during Sunday morning worship, killing 26 and injuring at least 20 others.