Congressman Henry Cuellar is taking the man many credit with stopping the Sutherland Springs gunman to President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Stephen Willeford, 55, fired at the gunman as he left First Baptist Church.
It’s common practice for sitting members of Congress to invite members of the public to the State of the Union. Cuellar represents Texas Congressional District 28 in the U.S House, which includes Sutherland Springs.
On Nov. 5, Willeford used a semi-automatic weapon against the shooter, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelly. When the shooter drove away, Willeford flagged down passing motorist Johnnie Langendorff, and they chased the gunman. Soon afterwards, the shooter died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Twenty six were killed in the church, including an unborn child.
Cuellar invited Willeford to the State of the Union shortly after the shooting.
“I told him when I saw him there a few days after the shooting that I thought he was a hero and somebody we were very proud of,” he said.
Willeford’s wife Pam will also be present at the address. Cuellar’s office is covering the travel expenses.
“We will always remember the lives lost in Sutherland Springs and I applaud Stephen Willeford for his selfless actions. I am proud to have him as my guest at the President’s State of the Union Address,” Cuellar said.
Willeford and Langendorff received standing ovations from the crowd at a prayer vigil in Floresville with Vice President Mike Pence, several days after the shooting.
Joey Palacios can be reached at joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.