SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – As he sped up FM 539 at more than 90 mph with an armed stranger beside him, chasing after a mass shooter, Johnnie Langendorff says not much was running through his head.
"He just hurt so many people, and he just affected so many people’s lives," Langendorff said. "Why wouldn’t you want to take him down?”
Langendorff said he and an unknown neighbor to the church chased after the shooter, Devin Kelley, for 11 miles before Kelley's car crashed and law enforcement arrived. The chase ensued after the neighbor, armed with a rifle, exchanged gunfire with Kelley at the First Baptist Church where investigators say Kelley killed at least 26 people Sunday morning.
DPS Regional Director Freeman Martin said that neighbor's shooting caused Kelley to drop his weapon. While Martin could not confirm if the neighbor hit Kelley, he said it was safe to say his actions saved lives and prevented more mayhem.
It was that scene Langendorff stumbled upon as he drove near the First Baptist Church Sunday morning on his way to his girlfriend's house.
Langendorff said he didn't get a good look at the shooter besides that he was in all black, but he saw and heard the gunfire. He said it seemed like Kelley was shooting a pistol at that point.
The neighbor, who Langendorff didn't know, had what appeared to be an AR-15.
"The gentleman with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off, and he briefed me quickly on what had just happened, and said that we had to get him and so that’s what I did,” Langendorff said.
The pair chased after Kelley, who was driving an SUV, hitting about 95 mph as they raced up the country road. Langendorff stayed on the phone with dispatch as they drove, giving them updates on their location and direction, letting them know the vehicle was in sight and they were getting closer and closer.
Then, near the intersection of Hartfield and Sandy Elm roads, Kelley appeared to lose control of his SUV.
“It’s like he just gave up. He just kind of went off in the ditch, hit a hay bale from what I could see, and then he just never moved after that," Langendorff said.
"The gentleman that was with me got out, rested his rifle on my hood and kept it aimed at him, telling him to 'Get out. Get out.' There was no movement. There was none of that."
Langendorff said Kelley's brake lights were going on and off.
"So he might have been unconscious from the crash or something like that," he said. "I’m not sure."
It took about five to seven minutes for law enforcement to arrive on the scene. According to a news release from DPS and the Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Kelley was found dead inside the vehicle. The cause of death is still under investigation.
"It was a horrible tragedy," Langendorff said, "but I hope the families affected can sleep a little better at night knowing that he was taken care of."