2018 Man of the Year: The Hero Who Stopped the Waffle House Shooter

James Shaw, Jr.
James Shaw, Jr. (center) / Getty Images
December 29, 2018

"I'm not a hero. I'm just a regular person."

That's what James Shaw Jr. told those gathered at a press conference honoring him for disarming a shooter who had opened fire on a group of diners at a Tennessee Waffle House in April. As the attacker opened fire murdering 4 people, Shaw was grazed by a bullet and dove for the relative safety of the bathroom. As the attacker approached the bathroom, Shaw was faced with a simple choice: fight or die. He chose to fight.

Shaw rushed towards the attacker, hit him with the bathroom door, and grabbed his rifle. Shaw was able to wrestle the gun away from the attacker and throw him out of the restaurant in order to stop the shooting. Police said his actions saved the lives of the rest of the diners.

He said he was scared when the shooting started but he did what he felt he had to.

"I was completely doing it just to save myself. Now, me doing that, I did save other people," he said. "But I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator, or Superman or anybody like that. It was just, I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it."

Shaw said he wanted to survive so he could get back to his daughter but again rejected the hero label.

"I have a four-year-old daughter and that came to mind probably after the fact. The only thing I was thinking was save yourself and get the gun away from him," Shaw told WSMV. "Once you're in that position, there's nothing else for you to do."

After stopping the attacker, Shaw even helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars for the victims of the attack.

Despite his insistence he was just doing what anyone would do, police said Shaw is indeed a hero.

"He is the hero here, and no doubt he saved many lives," Metro Nashville Police spokesperson Don Aaron told NPR.

Published under: Men of the Year