SAN MARCOS, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - On Nov. 5, 2017, it took Stephen Willeford only moments to realize there were gunshots coming from the nearby First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. He quickly loaded his gun.
"Our guns aren't their enemy, by any means. If I can stop something I will and whenever a police officer comes, I'm totally compliant," he said, in reference to when police respond to shootings.
Willeford confronted shooter Devin Kelley, after authorities say Kelley opened fire inside First Baptist Church killing 26, and injuring several other people.
He and another citizen chased Kelley in their car, before police arrived to find Kelley dead in his car. "I always taught classes and said if it ever happens, be ready to respond, and pray it never happens," said Willeford.
It did happen, randomly...and that's one of the messages he shared at the Texas Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association Convention in San Marcos Tuesday. "You can't stop evil from happening. Evil is going to happen in this world. You can minimize the effect of it," said Willeford.
In the wake of two more massacres in Dayton and El Paso, Willeford says what the nation needs is unity. "This country needs to come together and I think the presidential candidates' rhetoric is just as divisive. Both sides of the aisle need to understand and need to pray about it
Organizer Carla Sisk says what happened in Dayton and El Paso is a reminder of how far the country has to go, and to not bicker and for now, not to dwell on politics. "We send our love and our prayers. It's not a time to be political. It's a time to come together and mourn, to grieve, to bury the dead, to honor them," said Sisk.
When it comes to how he reacted that day, Willeford credits his faith in God, and he says he wishes he could have gotten to the church sooner.