Last Sunday, April 22, a 29-year old man entered a Waffle House restaurant near Antioch, Tennessee armed with an assault-style rifle prepared to kill many of the restaurants patrons.
Taking cover behind a swinging door, James Shaw, Jr. and his best friend, Brennan McMurry, looked for a moment to take action against the shooter.
As reported by The New York Times (Apr. 23), “ ‘There is kind of no running from this,’ Mr. Shaw said. He recalled thinking to himself, ‘I’m going to have to try to find some kind of flaw or a point in time where I could make it work for myself.’
“During a sudden break in the firing, Mr. Shaw sprinted through the door as fast as he could, slamming into the gunman and knocking him to the ground. He grabbed the rifle and tossed it over the restaurant counter.”
It was later discovered that that break came when the gunman was reloading.
“The gunman, Travis Reinking, 29, then ran away, the authorities said, but not before he had killed four people and injured four others.”
But without Shaw’s quick intervention, it could’ve been much worse.
At news conference, Shaw said, “I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person. I think anybody could’ve did what I did if they’re just pushed in that kind of cage,” Shaw said, “and you have to either react or you’re going to, you know, fold.”
Clearly, he did not “fold.”
“At the news conference and in interviews, NPR reported (Apr. 23), “Shaw has said he’s sorry for the loss of life at the restaurant, and that he feels badly that he couldn’t get to the gunman sooner.
“When the shooting started, Shaw said he dived toward the bathroom. A bullet grazed his elbow — and he realized there was nowhere else for him to go. When Shaw saw the gunman point the barrel of his rifle down toward the ground, pausing to either reload or fix a jam, Shaw saw his chance.
“ ‘This is it here, this is all you have,’ he recalled thinking, in an interview at his house with local TV news station WSMV.
“ ‘In the bathroom, it’s only one way in and one way out, and I was like, he’s going to have to work for this kill — for me, personally. So I just got a head full of steam, and I ran through the door. And it worked out like I wanted it to,’ he said.
“When asked if he had been scared, Shaw laughed and said, ‘Yes.’
“Shaw said he hit the gunman with the door. He then grabbed the rifle, burning the palm of his hand, and eventually wrestled it away. During their struggle, Shaw said, the attacker spoke to him.
“ ‘He was cursing me, because, you know, I was taking his gun from him. And then after I got the gun, he was just like — he acted like I was in the wrong,’ Shaw said. ‘And I was like, “I’m just trying to live.” ”
But James Shaw’s actions did not end with stopping the gunman. “Shaw has also started a Go Fund Me page,” NPR writes, “to benefit the families of the attack’s victims. In just over 16 hours, it raised more than $20,000 — surpassing the initial goal of $15,000.”
However, I have one quibble with Mr. Shaw.
Dude, you saved people’s lives! You are a hero!