James Shaw Jr. watched a kitchen employee stacking plates at the Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee. The tower of porcelain plates was getting dangerously high, and James Shaw and his friend, from their table-top seats, were ready for the loud clash of shattered plates. So when gunfire broke out, they initially shrugged it off as fallen plates. Then a second eruption, then a third, and glass ricocheted around the crowded room.
Employees panicked into a scatter. James Shaw, lept from his seat, toward the entrance, where a person lay bleeding, motionless. Earlier, Shaw had seen the killer’s silhouette in the gold Chevy Silverado outside, but shrugged it off. It was 3:30 in the morning, after all.
There was no reason to assume that the 29-year-old man inside the car was motivating himself for a shooting spree. Or that he was naked from the waist down. And especially not that he, less than a year ago, had been arrested by the Washington, DC Police outside the White House for “unlawfully entering the area,” which he told police he needed to inspect.
He could’ve killed everyone in the restaurant. Luckily, James Shaw Jr. was there.
Shaw didn’t know any of this, only that a man with an AR-15 was on the other side of the door.
The shooter killed four people, but he could’ve killed many more. He could’ve killed everyone in the restaurant. Luckily, James Shaw Jr. was there. This isn’t about gun control. The shooter had lost his right to purchase or own guns. This is about the American spirit that James Shaw Jr. showed yesterday.