While grabbing a late night/early morning breakfast at a Waffle House near Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, James Shaw Jr. did not expect to save any lives.
But around 3:25 a.m., a 29-year-old man came into the restaurant with a gun and opened fire.
Within minutes, the gunman left four people dead and injured four others.
Shaw immediately attacked the shooter, stopping him from hurting anyone else by grabbing the barrel of the gun and throwing it over the restaurant counter.
“He saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point, the shots had stopped,” said Metro Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron.
“So he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter. At that point, the gunman then fled.”
By 4 a.m., Shaw was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital to be treated for burns and a gunshot wound on his hand.
While checking his blood pressure, one of the paramedics began asking him questions. It was then that Shaw realized what he could have lost and broke down in tears.
“He asked if I had kids,” Shaw Jr. said. “I thought I could have possibly never seen my daughter again. That hurt.”
Shaw’s sisters went on to explain that his 4-year-old daughter Brooklyn always comes first.
Shaw has been hailed as a hero for his selflessness Sunday night, but he doesn’t accept the title — he said he was just trying to stay alive.
“It feels selfish,” he said. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”
“Once you’re in that position and you see there’s nothing else for you to do, there’s a brick wall, and he’s standing there with a gun. You have to react,” Shaw told WSMV.
But friends, family, and many others who have heard his story know his actions are those of a true hero.
“He is a hero in my books,” said Brennan McMurry, a friend who was with Shaw at the time of the incident.
By Monday morning, authorities were able to locate shooting suspect Travis Reinking and took him into custody.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.