Early Sunday morning a mostly-nude shooter attacked employees and patrons at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee leaving four dead and others wounded. The suspect fled the scene but was identified by police as 29-year-old Travis Reinking and apprehended by police Monday afternoon after a day-long manhunt.
The damage inflicted by Reinking was cut short by the heroics of one Waffle House customer who wrestled the “assault-type rifle” away from the shooter, preventing him from taking more lives.
This is James Shaw. He's a hero. His hands are burned severely from grabbing the assault rifle used to kill four people inside a Nashville Waffle House. He likely saved dozens of lives pic.twitter.com/WV7KQlzA2R
— Chris Conte (@chrisconte) April 22, 2018
James Shaw Jr. initially hid in the bathroom when the first gunshots rang out and when he heard a pause in the shooting, he made the quick decision to rush the gunman and disarm him. Shaw sustained a minor gunshot wound to his arm and burns on his hands where he grabbed the barrel of the gun. Despite the fact his actions could very well have saved dozens of lives, Shaw is adamant he is not a hero.
"I kind of made up my mind… that if it was gonna come down to it, he was gonna have to work to kill me": Hero customer James Shaw Jr. describes the moment he disarmed a gunman who killed 4 people at a Waffle House near Nashville https://t.co/uXRm31g4La pic.twitter.com/UJUL3C2Uhv
— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2018
“I’m not a hero, I’m just a regular person,” he said at a press conference Monday, “And I think anybody would have done what I did if they were pushed into that kind of cage. You have to either react or you’re going to fold.” He added that he didn’t have the lives he would save on his mind at all when he ambushed Reinking.
“I did that completely out of a selfish act. I was completely doing it just to save myself,” Shaw said, “Now, me doing that, I did save other people but I don’t want people to think that I was The Terminator or Superman or anybody like that. I just figured that if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it.”
This is 29 year old James Shaw. He tackled and disarmed the suspected white supremacist terrorist Travis Reinking who shot up a Waffle House in Antioch Tn. This is a real American hero. He saved many lives pic.twitter.com/nrEULqh89O
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) April 22, 2018
He might be rejecting his hero status, but the people who were in that Waffle House and those who read about Shaw’s acts aren’t as quick to let him off.
“He was a hero,” witness Chris Cordero told WSMV in Tennessee, “Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant.”
Thank you so MUCH James Shaw. pic.twitter.com/NxbCfeRBPm
— Mickey Murray (@hwmnylx69) April 22, 2018
I was in tears watching this video. OMG. James Shaw grabbed the AR-15, which had just been fired, severely burning his hands in the process. This man is extraordinary, even though he doesn’t think he is. He’s had no military training, yet he’s got the guts of a Navy SEAL.
— Debbie Eckert (@bachinventions) April 22, 2018
We use the term "hero" way too loosely these days, but this young man is TRULY a hero!! Most people would not have the courage to do what he did in this situation. His instincts just kicked in. Blessings, James Shaw!
— GLE (@ms_gleee) April 22, 2018
He is a hero. Will the “president” give him props for saving lives when faced with an AR-15 or nah because of the NRA?
— This Too Shall Pass (@sharpetax) April 22, 2018
The Real T'Challa pic.twitter.com/qEvsVf8ejh
— DreadLock Holmes (@Fly_Livin_Vinci) April 22, 2018
And like a true hero, Shaw mourned for the victims he couldn’t save. He told WSMV that he wanted to apologize to the families whose loved ones were killed before he could wrestle the gun away.
“There’s four families that are grieving right now. So much life was lost for no reason,” Shaw said, breaking down, “I feel like it could be very selfish of me if I didn’t point it out. And I apologize.”
On Sunday, Shaw set up a GoFundMe page to assist those families and he says he intends to stay in contact with them and help them as best he can.
Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29
Joe R. Perez, 20
Akilah Dasilva, 23
Deebony Groves, 21
These four young people had their whole lives ahead of them.
Remember their faces and names. Fight for them. pic.twitter.com/uwejk37Eax
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) April 23, 2018