James Shaw Jr. is being hailed a hero after he disarmed a man who opened fire on an Antioch Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. Police and an eyewitness said Shaw’s actions prevented further bloodshed at the restaurant in Antioch.
According to CNN, the gunman killed four people and injured two more, but the casualties could have been much higher if 29-year-old Shaw hadn’t tackled the shooter to disarm him.
During the shooting, Shaw said he saw his opportunity to take down the shooter after he felt cornered. Police spokesman Don Aaron confirmed Shaw Jr.’s actions, saying that he rushed at the shooter, disarmed him, and threw the assault rifle he was over a counter.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Gunman Opened Fire on the Waffle House At 3:25 a.m., Killing Four and Wounding Two Others
Police are asking for the public’s help in finding suspect: 29-year-old Travis Reinking of Morton, Illinois. Authorities said the gunman arrived in a vehicle registered to Reinking, though he walked away from the restaurant naked, according to CNN.
Police said that Reinking, 29, allegedly opened fire at about 3:25 a.m. at the Waffle House.
The gunman fled on foot and hid for more than 24 hours, before he was captured Monday afternoon, according to police.
Reinking already had a history of breaking the law before he allegedly opened fire at the Waffle House. He was arrested by the Secret Service in July 2017 after he entered a restricted area outside the White House, according to authorities. Reinking refused to leave and was then taken into custody and charged with unlawful entry. The Secret Service said Reinking told agents he was at the White House to make an appointment with the president.
The victims of the shooting have been identified as Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, Goodlettsville, who worked at the Waffle House and was fatally shot while on his break outside; Joe Perez, a 20-year-old diner who was also killed outside the restaurant; and Akilah Dasilva, 23, who was killed inside the Waffle House. A 21-year-old woman was also killed inside the restaurant, but her name has not been released pending notification of her family.
2. Shaw Acted Quickly, Disarming the Shooter and Tossing the Weapon Across the Counter
Aaron told reporters Sunday morning that the Waffle House hero rushed the suspected shooter, disarmed him and threw the assault rifle he was carrying over the counter.
“When he heard the gunshots he ran back to restroom area,” Aaron said. “He watched the gunman.
“He reported that he saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point, the shots had stopped,” Aaron said. “So he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away (and) tossed it over the counter.
“At that point, the gunman then fled.”
The Tennessean reports that Shaw said he was at a fraternity house party before heading to the Bell Road Waffle House at about 2:30 a.m. with some friends. They left soon after because it was too packed, he said.
The group pulled into the Waffle House at about 3:20 a.m, shortly before chaos broke out.
3. Shaw Claims he was “Just Trying to Stay Alive,” and Doesn’t Consider Himself a Hero
According to the Tennessean, Shaw said that after feeling cornered, he saw an opportunity to tackle the man shooting into the waffle house. He said he was just trying to stay alive and doesn’t feel like a hero.
“I don’t really know, when everyone said that (of being a hero), it feels selfish,” Shaw said, according to the Tennessean. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”
As the suspect came through the door, Shaw noticed that he needed to reload. That’s when he said he rushed him, the Tennessean reports.
“When he came in, I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill,” Shaw said. “I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.”
“I grabbed the gun and kept it down,” said Shaw. “He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.”
“I don’t know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying,” Shaw told the Tennessean. “Its kind of, it shouldn’t have happened. When I was in (the) ambulance to (the) hospital I kept thinking that ‘I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be real.’ It is something out of a movie.”
“I’m OK, though, but I hate that it happened,” Shaw said.
4. A Waffle House Employee that Witnessed the Incident Hails Shaw as a Hero who “Really Saved some People”
Chuck Cordero, an off-duty Waffle House employee who pulled up to the restaurant while the shooting was in progress, said the patron “really saved some people,” according to the Tennessean.
“Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant,” Cordero said, reports the Tennessean.
Twitter was flooded with praise for Shaw, hailing him a hero that put his life on the line to save the rest of the patrons at the Waffle House.
“Thrown into a crisis, he acted with courage,” said Nashville Mayor David Briley. “He saved lives.”
5. Shaw was Grazed by a Bullet, but Suffered Minor Injuries
Shaw was also grazed by a bullet and had been treated for a minor gunshot wound, according to the Tennessean. He was taken to the hospital at about 4 a.m. and released at 7:30 a.m.
Shaw was taken to TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, treated for minor injuries and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
“While I was in hospital, a girl that was there said you saved my life,” he said, according to the Tennessean. “I didn’t do it to be hero.”
After going home, Shaw changed clothes and attended church with his family. Mayor David Briley also attended church with Shaw at about 10:30 a.m.
Shaw also put together a GoFundMe fundraiser to help raise money for the families of the victims. The page has raised more than $28,000.
The description on the page reads: “My name is James Shaw Jr. I am creating this page to help the families of the victims from the Shooting that took place at Waffle House in Antioch, TN. Please take the time to donate as all of the proceeds will be given to the families. Thank you again for your generosity and blessings!”