- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Texas hero who confronted — and wounded — gunman Devin Kelley over the weekend outside a Baptist church said the Holy Spirit aided him the entire time.

Stephen Willeford, 55, exchanged gunfire Sunday with the perpetrator of the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history, but he says it was the Holy Spirit that steadied his hands and cleared his mind throughout the ordeal.

“I’m a Christian,” the Sutherland Springs resident told conservative pundit Steven Crowder on Monday. “I believe at that point — and this may sound a little off to some of your visitors that aren’t Christians — I believe the Holy Spirit was on me because I had the presence of mind to look at what was going on. As we exchanged fire I noticed that the side was one of those tactical vests that Velcros across, meaning he has Kevlar in the front, Kevlar in the back, nothing on the side.”

Mr. Willeford, who used a truck for cover, said he was only 20 yards away from Kelley when the two exchanged gunfire.

“I can’t explain the clarity of mind that I had,” he said of his ability to quickly identify and place a round on the shooter’s one vulnerability.

Mr. Willeford, a former National Rifle Association instructor, then flagged down good Samaritan Johnnie Langendorff prior to a car chase with Kelley.

The wounded gunman died after crashing his vehicle and shooting himself before police arrived.

Kelley killed 26 and wounded 20 others during his rampage. He received a bad-conduct discharge from the U.S. Air Force in 2012 after assaulting his then-wife and stepson.

Authorities says the massacre appears to have been motivated by an ongoing domestic dispute.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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