Last month, James Shaw Jr. wrestled an AR-15 assault rifle from a gunman at a Waffle House in Tennessee, saving countless lives. He was universally hailed as a hero, and even set up a GoFundMe page for the family of the victims who were killed before Shaw’s heroic action.
But President Donald Trump has been resolutely silent about the shooting. He has not tweeted about it, he has not mentioned Shaw, and despite White House reports to the contrary, he did not reach out to Shaw after the incident.
That is, until public pressure became so loud and insistent that he was forced to phone the young man on Monday morning.
White House spokesperson Raj Shah said,
This morning, the president had a call with James Shaw Jr. to commend his heroic actions and quick thinking last month at a Waffle House in Tennessee. Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had open fired.
When asked why Trump did not meet Shaw in person, Shah said he was unsure if such an invite had been formally extended:
I don’t know if he was invited. I just honestly don’t have more for you on that.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed last month that the White House had intentions of inviting him for a visit, but that now appears to be a baldfaced lie.
Earlier this month, Shaw, told CNN’s Van Jones that he hadn’t yet heard from the president:
I know he has a busy agenda, a busy schedule. Maybe he just hasn’t got around to me. Maybe my time is coming.
Trump has been criticized for failing to address the shooting in which all the victims were people of color. In addition, critics have called out the president for not publicly thanking Shaw, who is African-American. In addition, Shaw didn’t use a firearm to thwart the shooting, which doesn’t fit into the president’s—or the NRA’s—pro-assault-weapon agenda.
Last month, in the absence of any recognition from the president, Tennessee’s General Assembly officially commended Shaw’s actions in a joint resolution that read,
No matter his motivations, Mr. Shaw is indeed a hero; his actions on that fateful morning are unfathomable to most, indescribable by 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 works for AT&T and has a 4-year-old daughter. Shaw’s alma mater, Tennessee State University, recently created a scholarship in his name, and according to NBC News, a separate scholarship started by journalist Yashar Ali has raised more than $221,000 to pay for Shaw’s daughter’s education.
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