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Jurors See Video of Hero James Shaw Jr. Disarming Waffle House Shooter Travis Reinking



[Warning: Video is disturbing.]

If things had just gone a little differently, then James Shaw Jr. may have been the fifth slain victim of Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking. But as jurors saw on surveillance footage Monday, Shaw was able to disarm the defendant more than three years ago in that Nashville restaurant.

Footage showed Reinking entering the Waffle House holding an AR-15 rifle and wearing only a green, waist-length jacket. As seen on video, Shaw tackled him, wrenching the firearm across the counter and forcing Reinking outside of the building.

Reinking said something along the lines of “This n****r disarmed me,” according to Shaw, who is Black.

Shaw’s testified that Reinking was giving him a look in the courtroom that was all too familiar.

“He’s giving me the same look he did that night,” he said. Asked what it was, Shaw said, “Looked like he didn’t care.”

A camera panned over to Reinking, his face expressionless and his mouth hanging open. He stared at Shaw but did not seem to be showing any clear emotion.

Defense lawyer Luke Evans told jurors in opening statements that his client lived with schizophrenia, suffering paranoia and delusions that culminated in Reinking carrying out the April 22, 2018 shooting. The defendant was naked except for the jacket because he believed God told him to do it that way, the attorney said. The defense seeks a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity for Reinking killing  Joe Perez Jr., 20, Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, DeEbony Groves, 21, and Akilah Dasilva, 23.

Sanderlin, Groves, and Dasilva were Black, and Perez was Hispanic, though the state did not charge Reinking with any hate crimes.

Evans did not suggest race as a motive in opening statements, instead saying that his client believed the people in the Waffle House were government agents responsible for years of torment, such as reading his thoughts and breaking into his home.

During opening statements, prosecutor Jan Norman emphasized Reinking’s choices in targeting fleeing customers.

For Shaw, his choice was to find the opportunity to charge right at Reinking instead of trying to hide in the bathroom.

“There was a voice that told me to do it, do it now,” said Shaw, who testified to having no experience in law enforcement, the military, or being a paramedic, or anything to that effect. “And I acted upon that voice because I didn’t see any other way. That’s why I didn’t go in the bathroom because I thought myself that’s like shooting fish in a barrel, literally, so I wanted to stay outside that door, trying to keep an eye on him and just try to find my moment, just try to find my opportunity.”

He got through the tragedy with minor injuries, such as burns to a hand from where he grabbed the barrel of the rifle.

Even other survivors were not so fortunate. Sharita Henderson showed jurors the devastating gunshot wounds she sustained.

[Warning: Video is disturbing.]

Henderson testified that she was with her friend Groves at the restaurant singing “Jesus Loves Me” before the shooting. They were preachers’ children, she said.

Henderson said she tried to play dead after a wounded Perez mouthed for her to do this, but Reinking ended up looking her in her eyes and shot her immediately. Rounds took a chunk out of her arm and all but severed her leg.

“It was hanging on by tendons and skin,” she said.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime]

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