Nashville Waffle House: James Shaw denies heroism



A customer who wrestled a gun from a naked attacker who killed four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday has described his deed as a "selfish act".

James Shaw Jr was hailed as a hero by the mayor of Nashville for wrestling the assault rifle out of the gunman's hands.

But Mr Shaw has been more modest, saying he did it "just to save myself".

A manhunt is currently under way for suspect Travis Reinking, 29.

Mr Reinking was arrested last year after entering a restricted area near the White House, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said.

The Waffle House attacker burst into the restaurant at 03:25 local time (08:25 GMT) on Sunday in the suburb of Antioch and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle.

Two other people were wounded. Mr Shaw wrestled the weapon from the man, who then fled the scene on foot.

"I was completely doing it just to save myself," Mr Shaw told reporters at a news conference. "I did save other people, but I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that."

The four victims were:

  • Akilah DaSilva, 23, who was wounded outside the restaurant and died in hospital. His girlfriend, Shanita Waggoner, was reportedly injured

  • DeEbony Groves, 21, a Belmont University student who reportedly went to the Waffle House with friends from her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta

  • Joe Perez, 20, who was getting food at the Waffle House and died outside, according to police. In a Facebook post his mother said his family was "broken" with the loss

  • Taurean Sanderlin, 29, who worked at the restaurant and was fatally shot outside, police said

How did Mr Shaw intervene?

Mr Shaw said he had heard gunshots and glass smashing as people ran for cover.

He then hid in the restaurant's toilet area but the gunman shot through the door, injuring his arm.

"It was at that time that I kind of made up my mind - because there's no way to lock that door - that if it was going to come down to it he was gonna have to work to kill me," he said.

When the firing stopped and the gunman was looking at his weapon, Mr Shaw rushed him and a scuffle ensued.

"I hit him with the door and the gun was kind of jammed up," he said. "I grabbed it from him and I threw it over the counter top."

He then forced the gunman out of the restaurant.

Waffle House CEO Walth Ehmer praised Mr Shaw's actions and hugged him after the news conference.

"You don't get to meet too many heroes in life but you are my hero," he said.

How did the attack unfold?

Arriving in a pick-up truck, the killer shot two people outside the restaurant, before firing more shots inside, Mr Aaron said.

Three victims died at the scene and the fourth in hospital.

Police say he was naked except for a green jacket, which he removed as he left the scene.

The suspect was later spotted in woodland wearing black trousers but no shirt, police say.

Murder warrants are being drawn up against Mr Reinking.

The suspect was previously held for breaching the security barrier at the White House in 2017. He told Secret Service officers that he had a right to "inspect the grounds" and that he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.

Authorities confiscated weapons from Mr Reinking after the White House incident, giving them instead to his father. One of those weapons was reportedly an AR-15, which was the gun used in the Waffle House shooting.

Mr Reinking reportedly suffers from mental health problems, and has had run-ins with the police related to these issues.

A CNN article reports police were called to a public swimming pool after Mr Reinking dived into the water wearing a pink women's coat, before exposing himself to the lifeguards.

And a year before the White House incident, Mr Reinking allegedly told officers his belief that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone.

"Travis stated he did not want to hurt Taylor Swift or anyone else, he only wanted the harassment to stop," the police report read.