Witnesses say the man who killed at least than 26 people inside a small Texas church only fled the scene after a local resident started shooting back at him.
The local resident, who a neighbor described as the “nicest man on the planet,” had grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect as he exited First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, just 40 miles southeast of San Antonio.
According to state officials, during the confrontation the suspect dropped his assault-type rifle and fled from the church, with the local citizen in pursuit.
The suspect, identified as Devin Kelley of New Braunfels, crashed a short time later as law enforcement responded. Authorities found Kelley dead inside the vehicle, although it’s not yet known whether he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was shot by the local resident.
Eyewitness Kevin Jordan lives less than 50 yards from the church and saw it all happen. He was outside changing his car’s oil when the masked gunman started his deadly assault.
Jordan said his neighbor, who he described as a man who would do anything for anyone, came out with a gun then shot the suspect while taking cover behind a car.
“If it wasn’t for him, the guy wouldn’t have stopped,” Jordan explained to KENS 5. He explained that his neighbor also shot through the suspect’s window as he drove off.
During that confrontation, the gunman also shot at Jordan’s house and he said the bullet went through his window and narrowly missed hitting his 2-year-old son and wife.
“When he saw me and I ran, he took a pop shot off at my house,” Jordan described.
After the suspect left the area, Jordan, who is a medical assistant, went inside the church to try and help the victim’s, many of which he has known for years.
But it quickly became clear that nothing could be done for many of them. “I can’t even describe everything I saw.”
Officials have yet to release the names of the 26 victims, but said they ranged from five to 72 years old.
Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of First Baptist Pastor Frank Pomeroy, told the Associated Press in a text message that their 14-year-old daughter was one of the victims.