HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- The man who stopped a gunman in Nashville last week visited Huntsville Saturday to be honored by a local church for this heroic actions.
There’s no way James Shaw, Jr. could’ve predicted what would happen as he and his friends sat down at the Waffle House outside Nashville on April 22. He says his life is forever changed, but he doesn’t want to be known as a hero.
“I’d never wish that on anybody, that you’d have to do that,” Shaw told the church crowd.
Shaw was the special guest at Breath of Life Ministries in Huntsville. Praised for his quick action as he jumped on Travis Reinking, the man who police say shot and killed four people in the restaurant before running off.
“I know it was just a quick second, but it felt like 10 or 20 minutes was going by,” Shaw said.
“We’re proud of you! And we are praying for you, but we’re going to do more than pray for you,” Breath of Life Pastor Dr. Carlton Byrd said.
Shaw says he’s still getting used to all the attention.
“I look at life differently because I know I was taking life for granted,” Shaw said.
Shaw admits he’s not in church every Sunday. Still, with his family by his side, Shaw says he can’t help but think about the four people he couldn’t save that night.
“I could be standing in this auditorium, but mentally, I’m standing in the Waffle House,” Shaw said.
Two weeks ago, Shaw said he was just an engineer and technician. But he says life changed after his short encounter with death.
“As much as I would like to go back to that, I’m not sure that’s my purpose, to be an engineer anymore. I think I was supposed to save those people, even though I was just trying to save myself,” Shaw said.
Shaw says he plans to spend the near future sharing his story, raising money for victims and talking about gun violence and mental illness.
As of this week, the GoFundMe page benefiting the families of the victims has raised over $185,000.
Project 615 in Nashville is also selling “Spread Love” t-shirts to benefit victims of the shooting.