Twenty-nine-year-old James Shaw Jr. was at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, early Sunday morning when a gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket entered the restaurant and opened fire. The gunman killed at least four people and injured several others before Shaw wrestled him to the ground, grabbed the gun, and threw it over the counter.
At a press conference Sunday, Shaw said he saw an opportunity to get the rifle from the gunman when he was either reloading the gun or it jammed. After the two scuffled on the ground, the gunman took off, leaving his jacket behind with two magazines inside the pockets, according to police spokesman Don Aaron.
“I knew I had it in me, but I don’t have any specific combat training,” Shaw said. “I fight my daughter every night to get her to bed,” he joked.
Shaw suffered injuries to his hand when a bullet grazed him during the scuffle.
“I think when people say it’s heroic, it’s kind of weird, because I did it 100 percent to save myself,” he said. “And I guess I did save other people.”
Police and an eyewitness said Shaw’s quick thinking saved countless other lives.
“[He is] the hero here, and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and then tossing it over the counter and prompting the (gun)man to leave,” Aaron said.
“He was a hero,” eyewitness Chuck Cordero said. “Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant.”
The victims have been identified as Waffle House employee Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and customers Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville; Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Nashville; and Deebony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, CBS News reports.
The suspected gunman has been identified and remains at large. The FBI was tipped off about the gunman in 2017 by the Secret Service, who reportedly arrested him outside of the White House for unlawful entry.