Police praise hero diner who wrestled rifle from naked gunman in Nashville restaurant
Police yesterday praised the bravery of a quick-thinking diner after he risked his own life to snatch an assault rifle from a nearly naked gunman who shot dead four people at a restaurant in Nashville.
Officers issued warrants for the arrest of a suspect but said the death toll from the early morning shooting could have been much worse were it not for the actions of James Shaw.
Mr Shaw (29) said he did not feel like a hero but had just been trying to protect himself.
"I don't really know, when everyone said that, it feels selfish," he told 'The Tennesseean' newspaper. "I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it."
Witnesses said the gunman, who wore only a green jacket, opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle in the car park of the Waffle House restaurant killing two people. He then moved inside and shot two more.
Mr Shaw had arrived at the restaurant with friends at about 2.30am after a fraternity house party. He said he had tried to find refuge near the lavatories after being grazed by a bullet but spotted his opportunity when the gunman entered and needed to reload.
"When he came in, I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill," he said. "I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him."
A witness told CNN: "Had that guy reloaded, there were plenty more people who probably could have not made it home this morning."
Police identified the suspect as Travis Reinking (29) who was believed to live near the restaurant. They said he fled on foot and warned he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.
Last night it emerged that Mr Reinking was arrested in July for being in a restricted area of the White House. It was reported that the AR-15 he is suspected of using at the shooting was confiscated after the arrest, and then later returned to him.
Chuck Cordero, a witness to yesterday's shooting told 'The Tennessean' he was in the restaurant's car park when he saw the shooter pull up and start firing into the Waffle House.
The 50-year-old said the gunman did not say anything before opening fire and was "all business" from the moment he got out of his vehicle.
He said: "[The shooter was] naked except for a jacket and had an assault rifle.
"[He] shot a gentleman who was standing at the door, turned and shot my buddy T who was trying to get away down the sidewalk.
"That's when I hit the ground and from underneath my car I could see that he was stood out in front of the restaurant and shot a few shots through the windows and then he went inside.
Mr Cordero said he then fled to the other side of the car park and when he looked back he saw a man grappling with the shooter.
AR-15 assault rifles have been used in a number of recent deadly US attacks, including the Parkland school and Las Vegas shootings. (© Daily Telegraph, London)