James Shaw Jr. single-handedly wrestled an AR-15 from a man at a Waffle House who had just gone on a shooting rampage in Antioch, Tennessee, early Sunday morning, killing four people.
Shaw said he didn’t consider it heroic when he rushed at the man, took his gun and pushed him out of the restaurant. Shaw was getting breakfast with a friend at the time.
“I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person, and I think anybody could have did what I did if they are just pushed into that kind of cage,” he said, growing emotional, at a news conference Sunday. “You have to either react or you’re going to fold, and I chose to react because I didn’t see any other way of living, and that’s all I wanted to do. I just wanted to live.”
After saving the lives of the other customers and the staff at the Waffle House on Sunday, Shaw was soon under the media spotlight, telling his story and answering questions. He also was recovering from a gunshot wound and burns from grabbing the gun’s barrel.
But he wanted to do more for the victims’ families. So he organized a fundraiser. By Monday morning, Shaw had raised more than $26,000 for the victims and their families through a GoFundMe page.
“Please take the time to donate as all of the proceeds will be given to the families,” wrote Shaw, 29, who works for AT&T. “Thank you again for your generosity and blessings!”
More than 700 people donated, with many writing to thank Shaw and laud him as a role model.
“Well James Shaw Jr, as if what you have already was not enough – GOOD MAN!,” wrote John Kevin Covington. “What a fantastic young, and very kind and considerate hero you certainly are!”
He was hailed as a hero on other social media, as well. On the GoFundMe page, Brian Shumate wrote: “I don’t care what you say, Mr. Shaw you are a hero. You may say that your motives were selfish self preservation but your genuine humility betrays you. God bless you!”
The suspect, Travis Reinking, is still at large. A manhunt is underway to find him.
The Metro Nashville Police Department said Reinking arrived in the Waffle House parking lot about 3:15 a.m. Sunday and sat in his pickup for a few minutes. He then got out, wearing only a green jacket and carrying a AR-15 rifle, and fatally shot two people outside the restaurant, police said. After that, he went inside the Waffle House and continued shooting, killing two others, they said.
Shaw was inside. A bullet grazed his arm. He was behind a swivel door when he saw the gunman pause, either to reload or because something was amiss with the gun.
Shaw knew this was his only moment to act.
He ran to the gunman, and the two wrestled for the gun. Shaw overpowered the gunman, grab the barrel of the AR-15 and tossed the gun over the Waffle House counter and out of the shooter’s reach.
“I kind of made up my mind, because there was no way to lock that door, that if it was going to come down to it, he was going to have to work to kill me,” he later told the Tennessean.
Shaw said that his motivation was self-preservation and that, therefore, he should not be put on a pedestal.
“I want people to know that I did that completely out of a selfish act,” said Shaw, the father of a 4-year-old. “I was completely doing it just to save myself.”
The internet politely disagrees.
“My heart goes out to James Shaw, American hero, and to everyone who was affected by this horrible event. We are keeping you all in our hearts,” Sarah Klevan wrote on GoFundMe.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Allison Klein