Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter

Some fast thinking by a Waffle House patron in Antioch, Tennessee, saved numerous lives after a man opened fire at the restaurant, The Tennessean reported.

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Police said the suspected shooter, believed to be Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, opened fire at about 3:25 a.m. at the Waffle House.

James Shaw Jr., 29, was sitting in the Waffle House with a friend when the gunman opened fire, The Tennessean reported. He said he saw a chance to tackle the shooter and does not feel like a hero.

“I don’t really know, when everyone said that, it feels selfish,” Shaw said. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

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“If I didn't put my life at risk, then I'm probably not here," Shaw said later Sunday at a news conference.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said the shooter was rushed by the restaurant patron, disarmed him and threw the assault rifle over a counter, the Tennessean reported.

“When he heard the gunshots (Shaw) ran back to restroom area,” Aaron said. “He watched the gunman.

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“He reported that he saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point, the shots had stopped,” Aaron said. “So he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away (and) tossed it over the counter.”

“I figured if I was gonna die, he was gonna have to work for it,” Shaw said.

The suspect fled on foot and was nude after removing his coat, police said.

Shaw said a bullet grazed him, so he jumped toward the bathroom.

"I remember I was like ‘Dang, I’m basically in a barrel,’ ” Shaw Jr. told the Tennessean. “There is no place for me to go.”

Shaw said what happened Sunday morning has yet to sink in.

“I don’t know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying,” Shaw Jr. said. “Its kind of, it shouldn’t have happened. When I was in (the) ambulance to (the) hospital I kept thinking that ‘I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be real.’ It is something out of a movie.

“I’m OK, though, but I hate that it happened.”

Shaw said he did not have any special training.

“I don’t have any special combat training, although I do fight to put my 4-year-old daughter to bed every night,” he deadpanned.

Chuck Cordero, a Waffle House employee who was off-duty at the time but pulled up to the restaurant while the shooting was in progress, said the patron “really saved some people.”

"Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant," Cordero told the Tennessean.

A man, believed to be Reinking, was last seen in woods near the Waffle House, police said. He was wearing black pants and no shirt.

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