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Man hailed a hero after ferreting out Texas church shooter

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN

(CNN)– Were it not for a local citizen who faced the shooter, the most dangerous shooting in Texas history could have declared much more lives.

At a news conference Sunday night, detectives offered a preliminary timeline of the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and set out the role the resident played.

The shooter got in the small church in the rural town east of San Antonio, shooting with an attack weapon at the parish participating in the morning service.

A local resident grabbed his own rifle and engaged the shooter, said Freeman Martin, the local director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle and left from the church,” Martin said.

The man then went after the shooter, Martin stated.

A witness, Johnnie Langendorff, said he had actually been owning by when he saw gunfire between the shooter and the armed resident.

Langendorff informed CNN affiliate KSAT he never saw the shooter. But the shooter was removing and the armed citizen “briefed me quickly on what had just occurred and said we needed to get him, and so that’s what I did.”

They gave chase in his truck and called police dispatch to inform them where they were and what instructions they were headed.

“The car was in sight and I was picking up, getting closer and closer to it. We hit about 95 [miles per hour] … aiming to catch this person till he eventually lost control on his own and went off into the ditch,” Langendorff informed the station.

“The gentleman that was with me went out and rested his rifle on my hood and kept it focused on him [shooter], telling him to get out. There was no movement, there was none of that. I just know his brake lights were going on and off, so he might’ve been unconscious from the crash or something like that. I’m uncertain.”

When authorities identified the suspect’s vehicle a brief time later at the county line, they found the gunman inside– dead of a bullet wound. He was later recognized as Devin Patrick Kelley.

“At this time, we do not know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by the local resident,” Martin stated.

Authorities didn’t offer extra information, nor recognize the citizen or the gunman. They will likely elaborate more in subsequent media rundowns.

“They are continuing in their efforts as they put all the pieces of a very intricate puzzle together to aim to offer their community all the answers they require and should have,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

The shooting at the church claimed 26 lives. Twenty-three of the dead were discovered dead inside the church, authorities stated.

It’s the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history– and the 5th deadliest in modern United States history.

The Sutherland Springs homeowner’s actions echoed another man’s act of bravery during a different church shooting earlier this year in Antioch, Tennessee.

As the service at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ was ending on September 24, a shooter– whom police recognized as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson– went into the church with a set of handguns and began shooting. An usher at the church, Robert Engle, sprang into action– having problem with the suspect, even as he was being pistol-whipped, authorities said.

“Mr. Samson didn’t expect Mr. Engle to experience him, to have problem with him, to try to stop the shooting,” stated Don Aaron, the representative for the Metropolitan Nashville Authorities Department.

Throughout the run-in, the gunman mistakenly shot himself in the chest with his own weapon, authorities said.

When the gunman fell, Engle, despite his head injuries, ran to his car and returned with a pistol of his own, police said.

Engle, who has a license for a handgun, then made sure Samson stayed on the ground till officers got here, Aaron stated.

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