NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Pastor Aaron Marble is the head of Jefferson Missionary Baptist Church. The church has been in North Nashville for over 130 years.
Marble told News 2 he was awake at 3:24 a.m. on April 22, 2018. He was finishing up his message for the service for later that morning.
“Then, a Twitter feed from one of the news stations indicated a shooting had taken place at a Waffle House in Nashville. I did not know it was James.”
James Shaw Jr. has belonged to Jefferson Missionary Baptist since he was a baby. Shaw is credited with stopping accused Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking from causing any more damage that morning.
“I did not know it was James at the time. Probably, an hour and a half or two hours later, James called me. He sent me a Facebook message then he called me and let me know that he was involved in the shooting, what had happened and that he and the Mayor would be in our worship service that Sunday morning.
“I was shocked. I was thankful that his life was spared, but I was really shocked and really had no idea that we would be impacted as a congregation the way that we were with that event,” said Pastor Marble.
Four people could not be saved that morning.
23-year-old Akilah Dasilva died from blood loss at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 21-year-old DeEbony Groves, a senior at Belmont, was killed while seeking cover under a table. 29-year-old Taurean Sanderlin was working at Waffle House that night. He was killed while taking a smoke break. 20-year-old Joe Perez, who had moved to Nashville mere months before the shooting, was also shot and killed outside the restaurant.
“Every time I think about it I grieve for the parents that lost children,” said the Pastor. “I grieve the dreams, the ideas, the relationships that were lost to senseless violence that night. The lives we won’t get to see unfold because of the tragedy.
“I am also concerned as James is one of our congregants and one of our parishioners. I’m also concerned about the survivors: the dreams they have, the thoughts they have, the guilt that they carry because they made it out alive and others did not. I think there is a need for the community to support those who did survive and certainly, support the families who lost loved ones that day.”