29-year-old James Shaw, Jr. almost lost his life in a Tennessee Waffle House early Sunday morning. Instead, he is credited with saving lives, after he confronted and fought with a naked gunman who stormed the restaurant and killed four people.
Shaw (left in the picture above) was in the Antich (TN) Waffle House with a friend when a naked 29-year-old, Travis Reinking, used an AR-15 to kill four and wound seven others.
Shaw fought with Reinking and grabbed the gun, burning his hands. He also sustained a grazing gunshot wound to his arm, shown in the picture above. Reinking fled the scene and is still at large.
Taurean Sanderlin, 29, Joe Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, have been identified as victims of the tragic shooting. Sanderlin was a Waffle House employee.
A 21-year-old woman was also killed. Her name has not yet been released.
Reinking, 29, was first named a person of interest in the shooting and remains at large. Metro Nashville Police Department said he is now wanted for murder.
Shaw Jr said he was just trying to stay alive when he tackled the shooter and grabbed his assault rifle, throwing it over the counter.
‘I was just trying to get myself out,’ Shaw Jr told The Tennessean. ‘I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.’
Shots rang out at the restaurant around 3.25am on Sunday, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department.
A man who was only clothed in a green jacket and armed with an AR-15 shot six people before Shaw Jr stopped him.
‘I don’t know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying,’ Shaw Jr said.
‘It shouldn’t have happened. When I was in the ambulance to hospital, I kept thinking that I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be real. It’s something out of a movie.’
Shaw Jr had been at a club when he and his best friend decided to get some food, he revealed at a press conference.
Shaw and his friend almost weren’t in the restaurant when the shots rang out. They had initially tried to go to another Waffle House to eat, but because it was too packed, they went to a second location.
Shaw Jr said he saw Reinking sitting in truck as he headed into the restaurant around 3.17am.
When the shots first rang out, Shaw Jr thought a stack of plates had fallen to the ground.
‘The then second one happened, then the third one happened, and I saw the Waffle House employees scatter and I saw a person lying on the ground at the entrance of the door,’ he said.
When the gunman entered the restaurant Shaw Jr tried to hide behind a ‘swivel door’.
‘He shot through that door and it grazed my arm. That’s when I made up my mind – if it was going to come down to it, he was going to have to work to kill me.’
Shaw Jr said he saw a window of opportunity when the gunman was ‘trying to reload’.
‘I ran through the swivel door, hit him with the swivel door, and the gun was kind of jammed up and pushed down so we were scuffling.’
‘I managed to get him with one hand on the gun and I grabbed it from him and threw it over.’
Shaw Jr said he then pushed the gunman out of the restaurant, who then fled.
He didn’t follow because he was scared he might have another gun. Soon after, he flagged down passing drivers to call 911.
Shaw downplays his actions, and doesn’t consider himself a hero.
Shaw Jr said he was sorry he couldn’t save more lives.
‘It wasn’t really a process of thinking, it was more so a now, you have to do this now or it’s not…if I let him load that weapon there wasn’t going another window,’ he told News Channel 5.
‘There wasn’t going to be another chance. It was pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, there was a brick wall behind us and nowhere to go.’
‘I didn’t do it to be a hero.’
Shaw Jr was grazed by a bullet and treated for a minor gunshot wound on his elbow. His hands were also severely burned from grabbing the assault rifle.
After he was released from the hospital, Shaw Jr changed clothes and attended church with his family. He was joined by Nashville Mayor David Briley.
Here is video of Shaw speaking with the press today.
Reinking was on the radar of both the FBI and law enforcement out of state ‘due to previous interactions’, according to The Tennessean.
He was arrested by the US Secret Service for crossing an exterior security barrier near the White House complex in July 2017 and charged with unlawful entry.
The investigation into Reinking was closed in October 2017.
After Reinking was interviewed by the FBI and Tazewell Sheriff’s Department, his Illinois firearm authorization was revoked at the request of the FBI.
Four of his weapons were seized by Tazewell authorities, including the AR-15 used in the Waffle House shooting.
The guns were returned by authorities to his father, who has since admitted to giving them back to his son.
Two of the four guns are not accounted for and authorities believe he may be at large with two other weapons.
Two of the people who died were killed outside of Waffle House and one person was fatally shot inside the restaurant, according to ABC.
A fourth person died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where one victim remains in critical condition and another is in critical but stable condition.
Authorities said a total of eight people were taken to hospitals with injuries, including six who had gunshot wounds.