Man Who Shot Kelley: 'I Was Scared to Death'
Kelley broke toddler's skull in 2012 incident
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2017 5:32 AM CST
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Stephen Willeford, left, attends a vigil for the victims of the First Baptist Church shooting Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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(Newser) – The armed resident who confronted Texas church gunman Devin Kelley says he was "scared to death"—but he knew what he had to do. Stephen Willeford, who lives across the street from the Sutherlands Springs church Kelley attacked, tells KHBS/KHOG that he grabbed his rifle from its safe, loaded it, and ran out of the house barefoot when his daughter told him somebody was shooting at the church. He says he knew the shots he heard were aimed at people and he was scared not just for himself, but for people he knew were in the church. The 55-year-old former NRA instructor says he exchanged fire with Kelley, hitting him at least once, and then asked a pickup driver stopped nearby for help pursuing him after he took off. They chased Kelley until he went off the road. "I think my God, my Lord protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done," Willeford says. In other developments:

  • Kelley broke a child's skull. The New York Times has more on Kelley's violent background, including the fact that he beat his wife and broke his toddler stepson's skull during the 2012 domestic violence incident that led to his discharge from the Air Force. "He pled to intentionally doing it," says Air Force prosecutor Don Christensen. Kelley was sentenced to 12 months confinement, during which he was divorced by his first wife.

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