Sutherland Springs Shooting Is Still Reckoning with What Happened that Day

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The Hero of Sutherland Springs Is Still Reckoning with What Happened that Day

Interesting article about the Texas church shooting, and the men who put a stop to it (long article, though).

From the November 2018 Issue Subscribe
Stephen Willeford had just taken a bite of chocolate cake when the stranger approached. It was a warm evening in August, and Willeford was eating at Baldy’s American Diner, just a few miles from his home in Sutherland Springs. He was in a dark corner of the restaurant, out of sight of other patrons in the main dining room, but the stranger and his wife happened to pass by on their way to the restroom.

When the man spotted Willeford, he lingered for a few seconds, staring.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said. He looked to be in his late thirties and was wearing a faded U.S. Marine Corps T-shirt. “I just have to say, you look really familiar, and I can’t figure out how I know you. Can I ask your name?”

Willeford is the sort of guy who blends into most crowds. At 56, he’s balding, a little stocky, and moderate in height, about five feet, seven inches. He is gregarious by nature, almost jolly, which is apt, because he sports a scruffy white Santa Claus beard. His kids used to tease him because he seems to know someone everywhere he goes, and even when he doesn’t, he makes fast friends with strangers. But these days—ever since last November, when media crews from around the world descended on his tiny hometown, the latest ground zero in a mind-numbing string of mass shootings across the country—he knows all the quietest corners of his favorite restaurants. His life barely resembles the one he had before.

“My name is Stephen,” he said, his voice gentle and slow.


The stranger pondered this for a moment, but nothing clicked. “May I ask what it is you do for a living?” By now the man’s wife had emerged from the restroom and stood beside him, puzzled.

It had been nearly a year since that awful November morning, and Willeford’s name and photo had appeared in news stories around the world. The president of the United States had praised him during a press conference and later shaken his hand. A Fox News pundit had thanked God that he “came in and stepped up to the plate and was courageous.” Strangers had sent gifts worth thousands of dollars and invited him on exotic, all-expense-paid trips. Other strangers invoke his name daily while arguing on Twitter. He’s become a coveted public speaker. In May, he appeared before thousands at an NRA convention. Recently, when he addressed a crowd of roughly two hundred at a church near Dallas, more than twenty men lined up to shake his hand and pose for photos.

It had all come to feel like a surreal, never-ending dream.

“I’m a plumber,” Willeford said to the stranger, smiling.

This seemed to be all the man needed. “I thought so,” he said. “I know who you are.” Then he turned to his wife. “Honey, this is the guy who stopped the bad man.”
 

upcountry

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I was talking to a liberal friend today and he brought up the shooting and how horrible it was. He didn't know how it ended. I told him it was a good guy with an AR15. He had never heard that.....
 

clampett

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How is the news media over in NM? Are they as bad as the North East? The news media here barely mentioned what stopped that shooting, and they certainly didn't mention an AR15.
I was talking to a liberal friend today and he brought up the shooting and how horrible it was. He didn't know how it ended. I told him it was a good guy with an AR15. He had never heard that.....
 

PennyPincher

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the plaintiffs may prevail in this. regardless of whether the shooter should have been denied by NICS or not (if his discharge had been reported), Academy should have known the transaction was prohibited. The few short months I worked at SO, we had a binder with info about selling long guns to people NOT residing in NH. And we were always told to check the book and if we were unsure to ask someone.
 
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