Waffle House Shooting Hero Goes From The Hospital To Church | Nashville Public Radio

Waffle House Shooting Hero Goes From The Hospital To Church

Apr 22, 2018

As of late Sunday, dozens of police officers are still searching for the gunman who terrorized a Waffle House in Nashville, killing four and wounding two. But everyone involved is praising the bravery of a 29-year-old who wrestled away an AR-15 and kept a mass shooting from becoming a more horrific massacre.

James Shaw was discharged from the hospital Sunday morning, freshly bandaged up from a bullet grazing his elbow and a burned hand from grabbing the smoking hot barrel of an AR-15. And where did he go?

"He didn't skip church to be laid up," Rev. Aaron Marble said, as he prayed over Shaw's family at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. "But instead [he] went through this experience and got to come to church to give God praise."

Still dressed in a slim-fitting khaki suit, turtle neck and tasseled loafers, the young father, who works for AT&T, spoke at a police press conference.

"If you would ask me, I'm actually not a greatly religious person," Shaw said. "But I know that in a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get the gun from him."

Police say the suspect, Travis Reinking, had been sitting for a while in the parking lot of a Waffle House in the suburban community of Antioch. Shaw recalls seeing Reinking's pickup truck as he and a friend — out for a night with his old fraternity brothers — walked into the restaurant shortly after 3 a.m.

Then gunfire, which at first Shaw thought could be plates crashing on the tile floor. Reinking is accused of mowing down a customer and a Waffle House employee on a smoke break in the parking lot. Then he shot out the glass and came inside to fatally wound two more, including a Belmont University student weeks from graduating.

Shaw took cover near the restrooms.

"At the time that he was either reloading or the gun jammed or whatever happened, is when I ran through the swivel door," Shaw recalls. "I hit him with the swivel door."

Stunned, Shaw wrestled away the AR-15 and slung it over the counter, then dragged the man out of the restaurant where he fled on foot, shedding the only thing he was wearing — a jacket with two extra magazines in the pockets.

"So, I'm not a hero. I'm just a regular person. And I think," Shaw said, stopping to choke back tears. "I think anybody could have did what I did. You either have to react, or you're going to fold. And I chose to react."

Shaw says it was really a "selfish act" that happened to save more than a dozen lives.

But the CEO of Waffle House, Walt Ehmer, tried to tell him otherwise.

"I talked to some of those people you saved today, and they will think of you for the rest of their days, as will I," he said. "We are forever in your debt."

While the focus has been on Shaw's heroics, law enforcement has been conducting a massive manhunt for a suspect they believe to be armed and dangerous. They're also trying to explain why Reinking had a gun in the first place.

He was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service last year after he refused to leave the White House perimeter. He wanted a meeting with President Trump. Eventually, his firearms license was revoked in Illinois and four weapons confiscated and given to his father. His dad now tells police he gave the weapons back.

An FBI special agent appeared at the same press conference as Shaw, who had to look down the barrel of one of those guns, and said the bureau did all it could do within its federal jurisdiction.