In an interview with NBC's "Today" Monday morning, James Shaw Jr, the humble hero who sprung to action during a shooting spree by a crazed gunman at a Waffle House in Nashville on Sunday, described how he managed to disarm the gunman, an action that almost certainly saved several lives.
On Sunday, a 29-year-old man — who had his firearms authorization revoked and his guns confiscated by authorities in Illinois in July 2017 after appearing in a restricted area in the White House — opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in a Waffle House in Nashville, killing four people and injuring several others. Though he was armed with more magazines, his shooting spree came to an abrupt end when one Waffle House customer rushed him.
"When I first heard the gunshots, immediately it was like a 'What's going on?' feeling," Shaw told NBC News in an interview Monday morning. "And then I looked back and I saw a gentleman at the door of the Waffle House. I kind of jumped from the high countertop seats ... towards the bathrooms.
"The bathrooms just seemed like a bad idea, actually in the hallway just seemed like a bad idea, like shooting fish in a barrel," he continued. "I was just kind of like, 'He's going to get us or get me anyway,' so I was just waiting for an opportunity, I was just waiting for a chance."
Shaw said he saw his chance to confront the gunman when he momentarily dropped the barrel of the gun.
"When I saw the barrel down, I saw my opportunity and I attacked," said Shaw. "I took it, and it worked out for myself and others that were actually in the Waffle House at the same time."
Asked how he managed to wrestle the gun from the man, who was wearing only a trench coat, Shaw said the door, helped him.
"When I ran through the swivel door, the swivel door acted like another ... hit, another layer, and it pushed the gun down, so the barrel of the gun actually bumped down and it was aimed towards the ground. Once it was aimed towards the ground, I held the gun down I think with my left hand, and I was either punching or hitting or whatever I was doing with my right hand. And then once he released it — at one point in time he had it in one hand. When he had it in one hand, I just took it from him with both my hands and then I threw it over the countertop.
"I was still trying to get out," he continued, "so I took him and myself out of the Waffle House, because I knew my best chance of surviving was outside. Mind you, he was ... nude and he just had a jacket on, so I didn't know if he had another weapon on him, like a knife, he might have had a hand gun. But I knew if I could get outside that I would be all right."
Asked how he was doing, he said he had a bullet graze his upper right elbow and woke up this morning to find some more scratches, but that he didn't want people to focus so much on him.
"I'm all right, just a little bit sore, but I'd rather be sore than severely shot," he said, noting his wound to his elbow. "This morning I got up thinking about the four people that had passed and the other victims at Waffle House, and I'm hoping that ... people are just as concerned about them as they are about me."
The host responded by saying what all of America is thinking: "James Shaw Jr, I know that you don't consider yourself a hero, but a lot of folks there at that Waffle House that night and a lot of folks watching this morning would probably disagree."
Video below via NBC News: