James Shaw Jr., 29, spoke to The Tennessean on Sunday morning about the actions he took to disarm the suspected shooter, Illinois resident Travis Reinking.
After the man shot numerous people inside the restaurant, Shaw said he felt cornered. He then saw an opportunity to tackle the shooter and get to safety, so he took it.
He tackled the man, disarmed him and threw the weapon behind the counter. The suspect then fled on foot.
On what drove him to take such a risk, Shaw said he was driven by the pure need to survive.
"I don't really know, when everyone said that (I was a hero), it feels selfish," Shaw said. "I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it."
During the ordeal, Shaw was grazed by a bullet on his right forearm. He has since been treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and released.
Shaw says the surreal ordeal has not fully set in yet, but he wishes the shooting never would have happened
"I don't know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying," Shaw said. "It's kind of, it shouldn't have happened. When I was in the ambulance to hospital I kept thinking that I'm going to wake up and it's not going to be real. It is something out a movie. I'm OK though, but I hate that it happened."
Since his account was posted, waves of supporters have called Shaw a hero for his actions, even if he is reluctant to accept the praise.
You're a HERO, you saved lives at the risk of losing your life. In my book that's a hero.— lisa ross (@lisaaross25) April 22, 2018
James Shaw Jr. is a brave man!— Kabbie (@sentence58) April 22, 2018
“... the Waffle House hero rushed the suspected shooter, disarmed him and threw the assault rifle he was carrying over the counter.”https://t.co/sRcFlig8Tg
The shooter fired several shots in the restaurant, located at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike, at 3:25 a.m. CT using a rifle. Four people were killed and two more were injured. Aside from Shaw, no other victims have been identified.
Police have declared Reinking as "person of interest" because the shooter drove a car registered to him to the scene. He also fits the current released description of the gunman, "a white man with short hair."
Nashville police are currently searching for Reinking, who was last seen near the tree line of Mountain View Apartments, located on Mountain Springs Drive. He was wearing black pants and no shirt.
BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately. pic.twitter.com/duoWCo5fC0— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
A man believed to be Travis Reinking was last seen in a wood line near Discovery at Mountain View Apts. on Mountain Springs Dr. near the Waffle House. The man was seen wearing black pants and no shirt.— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
As of 11:13 a.m CT, Reinking was still at large.
Waffle House has issued a statement on the shooting, in which they ask for thoughts and prayers for the victims of the shooting.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident," Waffle House told ABC News. "Right now, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we will be there for them in this most difficult time. We are still gathering the details, and so we do not have much information to share ... This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family."
Nashville Mayor David Briley also issued a response to the incident on Twitter.2comments
"It's a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman," Briley wrote. "My heart goes out to the families [and] friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning's shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime."
He continued, "There's clearly more to be said about these circumstances, but for now I ask Nashville to pray for and rally around these victims and join me in thanking [Metropolitan Nashville Police Department] as it works to find and apprehend the shooter."
It’s a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning’s shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime.— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) April 22, 2018
There's clearly more to be said about these circumstances, but for now I ask Nashville to pray for and rally around these victims and join me in thanking @MNPDNashville as it works to find and apprehend the shooter.— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) April 22, 2018