US & Canada

Nashville Waffle House: James Shaw denies heroism

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Media caption'I was completely doing it to save myself": James Shaw Jr disarmed the gunman

A customer who wrestled a gun from a naked attacker who killed four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday has described his deed as a "selfish act".

James Shaw Jr was hailed as a hero by Nashville's mayor for wrestling the rifle out of the gunman's hands.

But Mr Shaw has been more modest, saying he did it "just to save myself".

A manhunt is currently under way for suspect Travis Reinking, 29. Two people were injured by the attacker.

Mr Reinking was arrested last year after entering a restricted area near the White House, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Image copyright Facebook/ CBS
Image caption Clockwise from top left: DeEbony Groves, Joe Perez, Taurean Sanderlin, and Akilah DaSilva

The Waffle House attacker burst into the restaurant at 03:25 local time (08:25 GMT) on Sunday in the suburb of Antioch and opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Mr Shaw wrestled the weapon from the man, who then fled the scene on foot.

"I was completely doing it just to save myself," Mr Shaw told reporters at a news conference. "I did save other people, but I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday said that they "commend the actions" of Mr Shaw, and added that President Donald Trump had offered his condolences to the victims.

Who were the victims?

Akilah DaSilva, 23, was wounded outside the restaurant and later died in hospital.

He was a student at the Middle Tennessee State University and an aspiring musician.

"He meant the world to us. He was humble, kind, compassionate, outgoing and very creative," Mr DaSilva's mother told CBS News. "He spoke through his creativity and he entertained the world through his music."

Mr DaSilva's girlfriend, Shanita Waggoner, was injured in the shooting.

DeEbony Groves, 21, was fatally wounded at the Waffle House.

She went there with friends from her sorority, reports say.

She studied at Belmont University, majoring in social work.

Joe Perez, 20, was getting food at the Waffle House and died outside, according to police.

In a Facebook post, his mother, Trisha Perez, said his family was "broken" with the loss.

Taurean Sanderlin, 29, worked at the restaurant and was fatally shot outside, police said.

How did Mr Shaw intervene?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police examined the scene for clues
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The gunman used an AR-15 rifle in Sunday's shooting, officials say

Mr Shaw said he had heard gunshots and glass smashing as people ran for cover.

He then hid in the restaurant's toilet area but the gunman shot through the door, injuring his arm.

"It was at that time that I kind of made up my mind - because there's no way to lock that door - that if it was going to come down to it he was gonna have to work to kill me," he said.

When the firing stopped and the gunman was looking at his weapon, Mr Shaw rushed him and a scuffle ensued.

"I hit him with the door and the gun was kind of jammed up," he said. "I grabbed it from him and I threw it over the counter top."

He then forced the gunman out of the restaurant.

Waffle House CEO Walth Ehmer praised Mr Shaw's actions and hugged him after the news conference.

"You don't get to meet too many heroes in life but you are my hero," he said.

How did the attack unfold?

Arriving in a pick-up truck, the killer shot two people outside the restaurant, before firing more shots inside, Mr Aaron said.

Image copyright Nashville Police Department
Image caption The shooting occurred in the small hours of Sunday in a suburb of Nashville

Three victims died at the scene and the fourth in hospital.

Police say he was naked except for a green jacket, which he removed as he left the scene.

The suspect was later spotted in woodland wearing black trousers but no shirt, police say.

Murder warrants are being drawn up against Mr Reinking.

The suspect was previously held for breaching the security barrier at the White House in 2017. He told Secret Service officers that he had a right to "inspect the grounds" and that he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.

Authorities confiscated weapons from Mr Reinking after the White House incident, giving them instead to his father. One of those weapons was reportedly an AR-15, which was the gun used in the Waffle House shooting.

Mr Reinking reportedly suffers from mental health problems, and has had run-ins with the police related to these issues.

A CNN article reports police were called to a public swimming pool after Mr Reinking dived into the water wearing a pink women's coat, before exposing himself to the lifeguards.

And a year before the White House incident, Mr Reinking allegedly told officers his belief that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone.

"Travis stated he did not want to hurt Taylor Swift or anyone else, he only wanted the harassment to stop," the police report read.

Sunday's shooting happened seven months after a gunman killed one person and wounded several at a church near Nashville.

In that shooting also, a church usher stopped the gunman mid-attack.

Other "heroic" interventions

In September 2017, John Ogah foiled an attempted armed robbery in Rome. He was baptised by the Pope over Easter.

Ian Grillot was shot in the hand and chest after trying to defend two Indian men in a Kansas bar, one of whom was killed.

US Army veteran Chris Mintz rushed a gunman in an Oregon community college, taking five bullets in the process. The gunman killed nine before turning the gun on himself.

Aymen Derbali meanwhile was left paralysed after protecting others during a 2017 Quebec Mosque shooting in which six were killed and 19 injured.

And France's then-president Francois Hollande thanked three Americans for overpowering a gunman on a train in 2015 before anyone could be killed.

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