Johnnie Langendorff was headed to his girlfriend's house on Sunday morning when he came upon a harrowing scene: A man exchanging fire with another man in front of a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
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Langendorff had no idea one of the men, Devin Kelley, 26, had allegedly killed 26 people inside the church until the other man, a neighbor of the church, hopped into Langendorff’s truck.
“The neighbor with the rifle came to my truck and he opened my door and said, ‘He just shot up the church,’ and got in,” Langendorff said today on “Good Morning America.” “He said, ‘Chase him’ so that’s what I did. I just chased him.”
Langendorff and the neighbor, who was not identified, followed the suspect at speeds reaching 95 miles per hour.
At the same time, Langendorff was on the phone with 911 dispatchers trying to alert police that Kelley, who authorities believe killed 26 people and injured at least 20 at the First Baptist Church, was on the move.
“It seemed everybody had headed up to the church,” he said. “I’m not sure if anybody really realized that he had left and gone that direction.”
Langendorff and the neighbor, who had his rifle in the truck, had no idea what the suspect would do next. Still, Langendorff said the situation was nothing to “freak out about.”
“It was an act now, ask questions later kind of deal,” he said. “It wasn’t something that I needed to freak out about. The situation was, in a sense, under control and as long as I’m behind the wheel, I’m perfectly fine.”
Langendorff soon began to see the suspect losing control of his getaway car, which Langendorff said he left running with the engine on while he was in the church.
“He kind of started veering all over the place,” Langendorff said. “He took out one road sign and from there he hit the guard rail and then hit the bar ditch.”
The suspect crashed about six miles from the church, according to authorities.
Langendorff said he stopped his truck about 25 yards from where the suspect’s car crashed so his passenger would be able to safely open fire.
Police said the suspect was found dead in his vehicle. Authorities have not yet determined whether the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from a shot by Langendorff’s passenger.
Langendorff is being praised as a hero but said he was just doing "the right thing.”
“There was really no thought behind it,” he said. “It was just, act to do what I thought was the right thing.”
Langendorff added, "The gentleman who got in my truck … all he really got out was, ‘He just shot up the church. Follow him.’ And, you know, that’s enough for me to do anything, anything to help these people or to run the bad man down.”
A vigil was held Sunday evening as the small community of Sutherland Springs comes to terms with losing 26 of its own. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 and included the 14-year-old daughter of the church's pastor.
Langendorff is new to the area but said he has already seen the heart of Sutherland Springs.
"From what I’ve learned just in the last 24 hours or so is that it’s a great little community," he said. "There’s definitely a lot of love and definitely a lot of care here."
He continued, "So many people are pitching in, especially not just here but from all over the state of Texas. I'm not sure about other places yet but I know our bigger cities in Texas and stuff are all stepping up to help everybody and try and make this uneasy situation as easy as possible for the families and everyone involved and it's great to see everybody coming together and helping everybody out."