On April 22, a gunman opened fire and killed four customers inside a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee. Before the attacker, Travis Reinking, could do any more damage, James Shaw Jr. charged and took his assault rifle. The 29-year-old hero was rushed to the hospital for a gunshot wound and burns from the gun’s barrel, but just hours later, he launched a fundraiser for the victims’ families.
Since its conception, the GoFundMe account has crowd-sourced $162,640, far surpassing its initial goal of $15,000. Metropolitan Nashville Police identified those slain in the attack: Waffle House employee Taurean C. Sanderlin and diners Joe R. Perez, Akilah DaSilva, and DeEbony Groves — all of whom were in their 20s.
According to CNN, Waffle House has committed to donate all of its proceeds from the Antioch location for the next month to the families of living and deceased victims of the attack.
An additional GoFundMe was later created by Yashir Ali to benefit Shaw directly. It has raised over $174,000 to benefit the Nashville native and his 4-year-old daughter, Brooklyn.
“I normally don’t get involved directly in these matters, but James’ grace has inspired me to start this page to give him the support I feel he deserves,” Ali wrote on the fundraiser page. But he isn’t the only one hoping Shaw gets recognition.
Tennessee lawmakers released a joint resolution to honor the “everyday hero” for his heroism and humanitarianism.
“If his heroism is equaled by anything, it is Mr. Shaw's penchant for honesty; he later asserted that his actions were purely selfish and that he was only trying to stay alive, but everyone else, from Mayor David Briley, to Police Chief Steve Anderson, to Nashvillians from all walks of life, disagrees,” the document reads. “No matter his motivations, Mr. Shaw is indeed a hero; his actions on that fateful morning are unfathomable to most, indescribable to even the chief of police, and very poignant to the citizens of Nashville, who are deeply grateful for his brave actions in the face of extreme adversity that saved many lives.”
Shaw’s heroism in the moment is laudable, and the fact that despite his own injuries his first thought was for the victims who didn’t survive makes him truly extraordinary. For more stories of people doing right by others in the food world, here are the most inspiring food stories from the last year.