Man who disarmed Nashville shooter says he's not a hero

Man who disarmed Waffle House shooter declines accolades and says he simply acted out of self-preservation

NASHVILLE A 29-year-old who disarmed a gunman during a deadly shooting spree in a Nashville restaurant on Sunday declined accolades from police and others that he was a hero, saying he acted out of a desire "to live".

Mr James Shaw Jr, the father of a four-year-old girl, told a news conference flanked by Nashville Mayor David Briley and law enforcement officials that he was thinking simply of self-preservation when he wrestled the assault-style rifle from the assailant during a rampage in which four people were killed.

"I am not a hero, I am just a regular person," the Nashville native said, pausing as tears rolled down his cheeks.

"I just wanted to live."

Despite his humble recounting of the incident, police and others at the news conference stood and applauded him.

"He is a hero in my books," said Brennan McMurry, 28, a friend who was with him at the Waffle House when the gunman burst in before dawn, according to the Tennessean newspaper.

Nashville Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said Mr Shaw's actions saved lives.

"The shots had stopped, so he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter and, at that point, the gunman fled," he said.

The authorities said the suspected gunman, identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking, remained at large on Sunday.

Mr Shaw, who works for telco AT&T, recalled the moment at the Waffle House when he heard a crash, which he initially thought was plates breaking.

He then saw the gunman, who was dressed in only a green jacket, open fire.

When Mr Shaw moved towards the bathroom, the shooter followed him, making him feel trapped.

"I distinctly remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill," he said.

Mr Shaw said when he saw the gunman pause to reload, he saw his opportunity and snatched the gun, which he said was hot to the touch, and threw it away.

He sported a bandage over his right hand where he was burned grabbing the barrel.

"I didn't care. It was life or death at that time," Mr Shaw said at the conference, adding he went home afterwards, got changed and went to church.

"I just wanted to live. I didn't really fight that man to save everyone else," he said.

"I took the gun so I could get myself out. That may not be popular. But I am honest to the core. That was my thought in that moment." - REUTERS