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Waffle House Hero Releases More Details of the Harrowing Encounter with Shooter

James Shaw Jr. may say he acted “selfish” to keep himself alive in a Nashville, Tenn., Waffle House shooting, but that hasn’t stopped him from speaking out about how he managed to save other customer’s lives, too.

Shaw confronted suspected shooter Travis Reinking early Sunday, April 22 after Reinking, who had been wearing nothing but a green jacket, had killed four and wounded two others.

While speaking to the “Today Show” Monday, April 23, Shaw explained his thought process upon initially hearing shots ring out.

“Immediately it was a ‘What’s going on?’ type of feeling,” the 29-year-old says. “I looked back and I saw a gentleman near the entrance door of the Waffle House and I kind of jumped from the high countertop seats and I jumped toward the bathroom.”

He added that the restroom seemed like a “bad idea” to go into along with wading into the hallway. After deciding the shooter would hit him no matter what, Shaw waited for the chance to act.

“So when I saw the barrel down, I just saw my opportunity and I attacked,” he says. “I took it and it worked out for myself. It worked out for others that were actually in the Waffle House at the same time.”

Shaw managed to wrestle the AR-15 away from the shooter, burning his hand in the process.

“I ran through the swivel door … [and it] hit another layer and it pushed the gun down,” he explains. “The barrel of the gun actually bumped down. It was aimed towards the ground and once it was aimed towards the ground, I held the gun down, I think, with my left hand. I think I was maybe punching or hitting … with my right hand. And then, once he released [the gun] … I just took it from him with both my hands and then I took it and I threw it over the countertop.”

Shaw said he focused his attention on getting himself and the gunman outside, knowing that would be his best chance for survival. Still, he was unsure if the shooter had other weapons on him.

“I did learn that he did actually have other magazines in his gun, and he could’ve reloaded,” he says. “I’m glad I acted.”

He added that he’s still got wounds and even discovered a new one on his back. And Shaw, who attended church following the shooting, said he hoped people were thinking of the victims as much as they were thinking of him.

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