James Shaw Jr. is dealing with a sudden rash of media attention after he successfully disarmed the Nashville Waffle House shooter outside of Nashville.
“I was completely doing it just to save myself,” 29-year-old Shaw said during a news conference regarding the Sunday morning shooting. “I did save other people, but I don’t want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that.”
Four people were killed and two injured when a gunman approached a Waffle House Sunday in Antioch, Tennessee, just twelve miles south of Nashville. The gunman opened fire from the parking lot with his AR-15, then entered the building…where people had been trying to peacefully enjoy their breakfasts.
“It was kind of like [he was] shooting fish in a barrel,” Shaw said of the experience. Shaw saw the bathroom and the hallway, where he was at the time, as lost causes for safety, and instead looked for an opportunity to disarm the gunman. He found one when the shooter lowered the barrel of the gun.
Shaw then busted through the door he’d been hiding behind and used it as a shield. He was able to keep the barrel pointed at the ground before grabbing it with his left hand. The heat of the barrel burned Shaw’s hand; the hero also suffered two large gashes on his forearms due to the intensity with which he burst through the door.
Keeping his left hand on the barrel, Shaw used his right to attack the gunman, who lost his grip on the weapon. Shaw immediately wrested the gun from the shooter and threw it over the counter. The shooter then fled the scene.
The suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, remained at large until just a few hours ago. Police found him in the woods.
At the time of the murders, Reinking was naked except for a coat. When he was found, though, he was wearing jeans and a torn shirt.
Who were the victims?
23-year-old Akilah DaSilva died at the hospital after being wounded in the parking lot. He was an aspiring musician and student at Middle Tennessee State University. His mother told CBS News, “He spoke through his creativity and he entertained the world through his music.” (Shanita Waggoner, DaSilva’s girlfriend, was injured in the shooting.)
21-year-old DeEbony Groves was a social work major at Belmont University who was eating with her sorority sisters when she was fatally shot.
20-year-old Joe Perez died outside the restaurant while trying to pick up takeout.
29-year-old Taurean Sanderlin worked at the Waffle House and was killed outside.
“There’s four families that are grieving right now. So much life was lost for no reason,” Shaw said to the press. “I feel like it could be very selfish of me if I didn’t point it out. And I apologize.”
Shaw also set up a GoFundMe for the families of the victims. As of this writing the fund is almost up to $50,000.