Waffle House Hero in Huntsville for local honor

Waffle House Hero in Huntsville for local honor
James Shaw almost lost his life when a gunman opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House last weekend.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - An unlikely hero made his way to the Rocket City on Saturday.

James Shaw almost lost his life when a gunman opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House last weekend.

In an effort to protect himself, he ended up saving many others.

James Shaw has deep ties to the Adventist church, so Oakwood said it was just part of their call of faith to honor this everyday hero.

"It seemed like it was going to be the end if I didn't act, so I acted," Shaw said, recounting the harrowing event.

"You really have to live while you're here because you never know when it's going to be gone."

The famed Nashville Waffle House Hero was an honored guest at the Oakwood University Church this weekend.

"He doesn't consider himself a hero, but we do. We're glad he along with his family, siblings and daughter are here with us today," Pastor Carlton P. Byrd said.

It was supposed to be a normal, late-night meal but, in an instant, it turned into a life or death situation for those inside the restaurant.

"We were just talking about how the cook was washing dishes and stacking them high. We thought they were going to fall," Shaw said of what seemed to be an uneventful scene.

He continued, "So, when the first gunshot went off we didn't think it was a gunshot, we thought it was the plates crashing to the ground. Then the second gunshot went off and we saw the workers trying to take cover and disperse."

Shaw said he took off towards the bathroom. By that time, 29-year-old Travis Reinking had shot several people and was shooting in Shaw's direction—a bullet already grazed his arm.

As Reinking ran out of ammunition stopped firing to reload his weapon, Shaw charged towards him and wrestled him out the door. Four people lost their lives, but that number would have been higher had Shaw not intervened.

"I love the sentiments of being a hero. I know what being a hero means and what it stands for, but if this happens again...and more than likely it will...I want people to know that a regular person did this so they can emulate it and know that fire I had inside of me is in them too."

Shaw called his visit to the Waffle House part of his purpose in life.

And his heroism doesn't end there. Shaw started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the families of the victims, with an initial goal of $15,000.

Oakwood added their own contribution today in honor of James Shaw's visit.

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