By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, syoes@afro.com

Confronted with a murderous, probably deranged gunman  wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, James Shaw Jr. kept calm. And, when the moment was right, he rushed Travis Reinking and wrestled his weapon from him after he had already gunned down four people. It probably would have been many more if it wasn’t for Shaw.

As selfless as Shaw’s act of uncommon heroism was at the Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tenn., on the morning of April 22., on that same day he immediately turned his attention to the victims of Reinking’s deadly act and their families to raise money for them. His initial goal on the GoFundMe page he established was $15,000, but, so far he has raised more than 10 times that amount, about $162,067 as of noon on April 26.

James Shaw Jr., waves to the crowd and legislators inside the Tennessee House chambers as he is honored for disarming a shooter inside a Nashville-area Waffle House at the Tennessee State House Tuesday April 24, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean via AP)

Another GoFundMe page was established for Shaw by Yashar Ali, of New York, and that effort has nearly reached the goal of $175,000 set by Ali ($174,732 by April 26).

“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,” wrote Ali on the fundraising page.

All four victims of the mass shooting in Nashville were either Black or Hispanic, and all were only in their 20s.

DeEbony Groves, 21, was from Gallatin, Tenn., and had been out with her sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta before she dined at the restaurant where she was killed, according to CNN.

Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, an employee at the restaurant, was from Goodlettsville, Tenn. Hre was gunned down outside while taking a smoke break.

Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville, was a Waffle House patron and was shot to death outside of the restaurant.

Akilah DaSilva, 23, of Antioch, Tenn., was critically wounded and died later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. DaSilva, who studied musical engineering at Middle Tennessee State, was at the restaurant with his older brother and girlfriend, Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville, who was wounded during the rampage. Another woman, Sharita Henderson, 24, also of Nashville, was wounded during the shooting.

On April 25, the Waffle House restaurant reopened with a memorial ceremony honoring the victims of the shooting and said it will donate 100 percent of its proceeds during the next month to the families of the shooting victims, according to CNN.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor