Man Who Wrested Rifle From Waffle House Gunman Raises $227,000 for Victims
Posted May 7, 2018 10:33 p.m. EDT
James Shaw Jr. exuded modesty in the hours and days after he wrested an assault rifle from a gunman at a Nashville Waffle House restaurant. And in his efforts to help the shooting victims, he set what turned out to be a modest fundraising goal: $15,000.
Just two weeks later, though, Shaw’s GoFundMe has raised more than 15 times that amount — about $227,000 as of Monday night.
“I am overwhelmed,” Shaw said in a statement. “To the thousands of people who have expressed their care, prayers and made financial donations, I can only respond by saying ‘Thank you.'”
The widespread generosity, he added, “has been a heartwarming reminder of what is possible when we come together to care for one another.”
Despite his best efforts, Shaw, 29, has been lionized for his decisive action in the wee hours of April 22. That morning, a gunman, identified by the police as Travis Reinking, opened fire at the Waffle House, fatally shooting four people and wounding several others, including Shaw.
Shaw, an electrician, had seen a young man move toward the building gripping an AR-15 rifle and squeezing the trigger repeatedly. And when the firing paused, Shaw, who had just been seated, saw a chance to intervene while the man reloaded his weapon.
Shaw scuffled with Reinking, seized his rifle and hurled it over a countertop, forcing Reinking to flee the restaurant.
“I just wanted to live,” Shaw later explained to The New York Times.
Officials said later there would have been greater bloodshed had Shaw not acted. And the plaudits have poured in over the days since the shooting. State legislators, the Nashville Predators and even a minor league baseball team have honored Shaw in some form or fashion.
On Monday night, Shaw’s alma mater, Tennessee State University, recognized him at a ceremony and reception. A university spokesman said Tennessee State had also set up a scholarship in Shaw’s name.
“The TSU family is extremely proud,” the university’s president, Glenda Glover, said in a statement. “James epitomizes the core values and mission of our institution.”
In the meantime, Shaw’s fundraiser has continued chugging along. The news release distributed Monday said the GoFundMe campaign would close Sunday. It noted that the Nashville office of the wealth manager UBS would coordinate donations to victims and their families free of charge.
Among the shooting victims was 21-year-old DeEbony Groves, a college senior who had been two weeks away from graduating from Belmont University in Nashville. The university has renamed a scholarship in her honor; over the weekend, Groves’ mother walked across the stage to accept her daughter’s diploma.
Reinking, 29, was captured after a massive manhunt that lasted more than a day. He is facing multiple charges, including four counts of criminal homicide and four counts of attempted criminal homicide, The Associated Press reported.
The AP also said that Reinking’s public defender, on Monday, asked that he be given an outpatient mental health evaluation before proceeding with his court case. A judge granted the request and said lawyers should return in three weeks for a status hearing, the AP said.