Thursday, January 20, 2022

Waffle House Hero James Shaw Jr. on ‘Today’: ‘I Saw My Opportunity and I Attacked’ (Watch)

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James Shaw, Jr. on "Today" (Apr 23, 2018) -NBC
James Shaw, Jr. on “Today” (Apr 23, 2018) -NBC

*James Shaw Jr., the man who wrestled a rifle away from the suspect in a mass shooting at a Nashville Waffle House that left four people dead, told “Today” how he managed to get the weapon away from him.

“When I saw the barrel down, I saw my opportunity and I attacked,” he said Monday morning. “I just took it from him with both my hands and then I threw it over the countertop.”

Police are calling James Shaw Jr. a hero for saving lives in the packed restaurant, but the 29-year-old Nashville resident labeled it a “selfish” act to avoid being killed.

At a news conference Sunday, Shaw explained that he and friends had just come from a nightclub and entered the restaurant minutes before the gunman, later identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking. He remains at large.

Shaw said he and another friend were seated at a counter when he heard gunshots, thinking at first that a stack of freshly washed plates had crashed down. Then, he said, restaurant workers scattered and he turned and saw a body near the front door as the gunman burst in. It was then he realized the noise were gunshots.

“I looked back and I saw a person lying on the ground right at the entrance of the door, then I jumped and slid … I went behind a push door — a swivel door,” Shaw said. “He shot through that door; I’m pretty sure he grazed my arm. At that time I made up my mind … that he was going to have to work to kill me. When the gun jammed or whatever happened, I hit him with the swivel door.”

Shaw said it was then that they began wrestling, ignoring his own pain as he grabbed the hot barrel of the gunman’s AR-15.

“He was kind of cussing while we were wrestling around. When I finally got the gun he was cussing like I was in the wrong,” he said. “It wasn’t any kind of talking between us; I just knew I just had to get that away from him.”

Waffle House patron James Shaw, Jr. (C) who stopped the shooting at a Waffle House where a gunman opened fire killing four and injuring two attends a press conference with FBI Special Agent In Charge, Matthew Espenshade (L) and Metro Nashville Mayor David Briley (right) on April 22, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Waffle House patron James Shaw, Jr. (C) who stopped the shooting at a Waffle House where a gunman opened fire killing four and injuring two attends a press conference with FBI Special Agent In Charge, Matthew Espenshade (L) and Metro Nashville Mayor David Briley (right) on April 22, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I didn’t really fight that man to save everyone else. That may not be a popular thing,” said Shaw, who was raised in the area, went to Tennessee State University and now works as a wireless technician for AT&T. “I took the gun so I could get myself out” of the situation. But he said he was glad to save other lives as well.

At Sunday’s news conference, Waffle House CEO Walter Ehmer joined several law enforcement agents in thanking Shaw for his bravery.

Shaw’s right hand was bandaged at the news conference. He also said he had an apparent bullet graze on one elbow and fell and hit his knee as he escaped, landing in the hospital for a time early Sunday.

After his release from the hospital, he and his family went to church together.

Watch Shaw’s appearance on “Today” below:

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