A Waffle House restaurant was the setting of a real-life drama around 3 a.m. last Sunday when a 29-year-old man by the name of Jeffrey Reinking, wearing a green jacket and nothing besides, walked in with an AR-15 assault-style rifle. The suspect drove to the breakfast restaurant, killed two people in the parking lot and proceeded to enter the establishment continuing to fire.
The drama continues when 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., looked up from what he thought was the sound of plates crashing to the floor. When he discovered it was not falling dinnerware he took cover behind a door as shots continued to shatter windows. James Shaw Jr. himself experienced a near miss. In a statement, Shaw would say that as the bullet grazed him, he decided “he was going to have to work to kill me.”
When the fire ceased for unknown reasons, James Shaw Jr. threw the door open and into Reinking. Shaw Jr. then grabbed the barrel of the gun, and a struggle ensued for control of the firearm. When a bullet is fired from a gun, the barrel heats up and with many shots fired, the barrel burned Shaw Jr.’s hand. However, he said he didn’t care, knowing his life depended on it.
The struggle lasted several seconds, where the shooter cursed and swore at James Shaw Jr. for touching his gun. In addition, another witness, Chuck Cordero, saw the shooter when he drove up. Cordero says “[The shooter] did not say anything,” adding he was “all business.”
Finally, when the early morning hero tore the gun free, he threw it over the counter. Reinking then immediately fled the scene, later ditching his sole article of clothing. Authorities are still searching for the suspect as of the time this article was written.
James Shaw Jr. had his burn tended to and appeared in bandages before news interviews. In interviews the next day, James Shaw Jr. answered questions humbly. The father of a four-year-old daughter said that “selfishly” he was thinking only about saving his life, not risking it for others. The rifle used in the attack had previously been seized by the local police on the request of the FBI, along with a pistol. The guns were then returned to Reinking’s father, with the direction to keep them secured and away from his son. The pistol still has not been recovered, although the AR-15 and two magazines have.
The local authorities have said that based on previous incidents with Jeffrey Reinking there is a large possibility of mental health issues being involved. James Shaw Jr. has been hailed as a hero by the police and news outlets. Remember, it is still not recommended nor encouraged by the police to approach a loaded firearm.
If you should find yourself in an active shooter situation, it is recommended that, according to an official government website, you run and escape if possible, hide if escape is not possible and fight as only an absolute last resort.
The mostly-naked man killed four that day and injured four more before removing his jacket and fleeing the scene.