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The 29-year-old hero from Waffle House shooting: 'I saw the opportunity and I took it'

The 29-year-old’s actions are credited with saving numerous lives after the suspect, clothed in only a green jacket, opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at 3:25 a.m. at the Antioch Waffle House on Murfreesboro Pike.

Shaw Jr. rushed the gunman, grabbed the gun’s barrel, pulled it away and threw it over the Waffle House counter. He suffered a gunshot wound and burns from grabbing the gun’s barrel.

Shaw Jr. said he doesn’t feel like a hero.

He was only trying to stay alive.

“It feels selfish,” Shaw Jr. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

Friends, families and the community disagree.

“He is a hero in my books," said Brennan McMurry, 28, a longtime friend of Shaw's who was with him at the Waffle House.

Shaw ended up at the Waffle House after a night out

Shaw Jr. found himself at the Murfreesboro Pike Waffle House after leaving a packed nearby Bell Road Waffle House. He and McMurry walked into the Murfreesboro Pike Waffle House at about 3:20 a.m.

Chaos broke out just minutes later.

Police say Travis Reinking, 29, opened fire at about 3:25 a.m. Shaw Jr. believed the noise came from one of the employees dropping dishes. He couldn’t recall how many shots there were, just that a man was on the floor.

Shaw Jr. said he jumped toward the bathroom and the suspect shot in that direction. He said he was grazed by a bullet.
"I remember I was like ‘Dang, I’m basically in a barrel,’ ” Shaw Jr. said. “There is no place for me to go.”
As the suspect came through the door, he needed to reload, Shaw Jr. said. That’s when he said he rushed him.

I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill,” Shaw Jr. said. “I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.”

He added: “I grabbed the gun and kept it down. He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.”

He pushed the gunman out the door after a brief tussle. The man, naked from the waist down, walked away, Shaw Jr. said. He didn’t follow the shooter, fearing he had another gun.

Police continued to search for Reinking on Sunday evening and issued homicide warrants for the four victims.

Shaw Jr. received a phone call from Nashville Mayor David Briley after the shooting.

The hero invited Briley to the Nashville church he has attended since he was a baby.

With Briley by his side, Shaw Jr. cried for the third time during the church service.

Friends and family gathered at church with Shaw Jr.

During the 10 a.m. church service, friends and fraternity brothers flocked to see Shaw Jr.

Over 10 fraternity brothers went to the church to see him, with his hand wrapped, but bleeding from the burns and altercation.

Shaw Jr., even after being called a hero, didn’t want to take credit for saving those that were at the Waffle House.

When asked to describe himself by reporters at a 2 p.m. news conference, Shaw Jr. said he’s a pretty cool guy. He also said that the only combat training he has is wrestling his daughter to bed.

During the news conference, the fourth time that day, Shaw Jr. cried.

“I choose to react because I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to live. I didn’t really fight that man to save everyone else. That might not be a popular thing to say,” Shaw Jr. said.

No one, including Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson at the news conference, agreed.

Shaw Jr., Anderson said, is a hero.

Adam Tamburin contributed to this story.


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