The man who wrestled an AR-15 out of the hands of a nude gunman at a Tennessee Waffle House early on Sunday morning is being hailed as a hero — even though he says he doesn’t see himself that way.
James Shaw Jr., 29, said that after going to a nightclub he decided to go to a Waffle House with a friend early Sunday. But the first one he went to was too crowded, so he ended up going to another one in Nashville.
Fatefully, he ended up there just minutes before the accused gunman, Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, entered the restaurant and opened fire.
“When I first heard the gun shots immediately it’s like a what’s-going-on type of feeling, and I saw a gentleman near the door of the Waffle House and I jumped from the high countertop seats and jumped toward the bathrooms,” Shaw told “Today” on Monday. “The bathrooms seemed like a bad idea — kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Shaw said he felt that Reinking was going to “get [him] either way” and waited for an opportunity to act.
“I was waiting for chance, so when I saw the barrel down I saw an opportunity, and I attacked and took it and it worked out for myself and others who were in the Waffle House at same time,” Shaw said.
Shaw said it was then that they began wrestling, ignoring his own pain as he grabbed the hot barrel of the AR-15 weapon. On Sunday afternoon, his right hand was bandaged from the encounter.
“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.”
Shaw said he wasn’t sure if the gunman had a knife or another weapon on him when he made his move, but felt he just had to get him outside.
“Later on I learned he had other magazines in his gun and could have reloaded, so I’m glad I acted,” Shaw said.
Reinking, who killed four and injured four others after opening fire in the Waffle House, escaped after being confronted by Shaw.
On Monday afternoon, Reinking was caught in a wooded area less than two miles from the Waffle House where the shooting took place.