Before the Texas church shooter encountered any police officers, he was run off a highway and dead.
He had been shot and chased by two private citizens who took it upon themselves to respond to a heinous crime when no one with a badge was anywhere to be found.
The church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is another heart-breaking chapter in the country’s epidemic of mass shootings. Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 26 people and wounded another 20, accounting for nearly everyone in the small church.
Dressed in black tactical gear, he killed the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter and eight members of one family, including a pregnant mom and three of her children. The senseless cruelty is hard to fathom.
The response by the two by-standers who refused to stand by is something else entirely. It was a characteristically small-town American act of self-reliance that shows, no matter how tattered our civil society may be, it still produces people who will risk life and limb for others without hesitation, unbidden by anything other than their own sense of obligation.
When Stephen Willeford, 55, heard of the shooting, he left his house barefoot with his AR-15 and started exchanging fire with Kelley outside the church. An expert shot, Willeford hit Kelley and reportedly aimed for the gaps on his body armor.