'Hero' bystander James Shaw Jr. wrestled gun away from Waffle House shooter

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Bystander James Shaw Jr. recounts wrestling a gunman's weapon away from him during a fatal shooting at a Tennesee Waffle House. (Jason Davis/Getty Images)

A bystander is being hailed as a hero after he wrestled a gunman's weapon away from him during a fatal shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House.

James Shaw Jr., 29, physically confronted the gunman and likely saved several lives during the pre-dawn shooting, Don Aaron with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.

Shaw, who spoke at a press conference Sunday afternoon with a visibly bandaged hand, said he was dining in the restaurant with a friend after they had left a nearby nightclub. They initially thought the gunshots were the sound of plates falling from the kitchen.

"If it was going to come down to it, he was going to have to work to kill me," Shaw recalled thinking when he realized what was happening.

Seeing that the gun was either jammed or had to be reloaded, Shaw approached the gunman and successfully grabbed the firearm and threw it across the counter. They continued scuffling out the door, and the suspect ran off.

"I knew I had it in me, but I don't have any specific combat training. I fight my daughter every night to get her to bed," he quipped.

Shaw, who was grazed by a bullet near his elbow and suffered other minor injuries as a result of the scuffle, downplayed those praising him as a hero, saying that he acted to protect himself.

But Nashville Mayor David Briley hailed Shaw, a Nashville native, as the city's newest hero.

"Thrown into crisis, he acted with courage. He told me he saw an opportunity and he took it. He saved lives -- that is certain and we are all thankful to him for his bravery," Briley said.

The gunman, identified by authorities as Travis Reinking, opened fire in the Waffle House parking lot just before dawn. Minutes later, he entered the restaurant and continued firing, killing a total of four people and injuring two others, according to investigators.
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gun violencefatal shootingshootingu.s. & worldheroTennessee