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Hero James Shaw, Jr: 'I just knew it was me or him'

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - The man who wrestled a rifle away from the shooter inside an Antioch Waffle House said he’s just a regular person who acted to save himself. 

“I figured if I was going to die he was going to have to work for it, so I rushed him,” explained James Shaw. 

MORE: Who is accused Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking?

Everyone from the mayor to the FBI to the police chief are all calling Shaw a hero.  

“I’m not a hero,” Shaw said.  “I’m just a regular person. I think anybody could have did what I did if they’re pushed. You have to either react or fall. I chose to react because I didn’t see any other way to live. I just wanted to live.”

Shaw told News 2 he heard gunshots outside the restaurant located at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.  He said he then saw bullets shatter a window and a victim collapse in a doorway. 

Shaw told News 2 he saw the gunman, identified by police as Travis Reinking, enter the restaurant with a "blank look" on his face. 

RELATED: Witness: The place was packed, people were ducking under tables

Shaw said that when he went to a hallway behind a door. He said gunfire went through the door and grazed his arm. 

Shaw told News 2 the shots stopped for a second and that's when he figured the gunman was either reloading or the gun was jammed. Shaw said that's when he moved in on Reinking. 

Shaw hit the gunman in the head with a door, then wrestled for control of the gun. He said he managed to get his hand on the AR-15 and threw it over the restaurant counter.  

Shaw said when he shoved Reinking out the door, the 29-year-old jogged away. 

“If I didn’t rush him I probably wouldn’t be here,” said Shaw.” I just knew it was me or him.”

Shaw was taken to a local hospital and treated for some minor injuries, including scraped knuckles, a swollen finger and a wound on his forearm where he was apparently grazed by a bullet. 

MORE:  4 dead, 4 injured in shooting at Antioch Waffle House

Shaw admitted he has no combat training, but knew he had it in him to fight and save himself.

He also emphasized he was not trying to be a hero. 

“I did that completely out of a selfish act. I was doing it to save myself. I wasn’t trying to be the Terminator or Superman,” he said. 

PHOTOS: Mass shooting at Antioch Waffle House

Shaw said after he left the hospital, he went to church. 

“I’m not a greatly religious person,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a major moment in my life. I went to church to get past it.” 

A total of four people were killed in the shooting and four others were hurt. Police are continuing their massive manhunt for Reinking. 


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