While Ivanka Trump took part in a hugely controversial visit to Israel and Melania Trump recovered from a kidney procedure, President Trump spent part of Monday trying to make things right with a man widely regarded as an American hero.
Three weeks and one day after the fatal shooting that claimed the lives of four patrons at a Nashville-area Waffle House and left several others wounded, Trump made contact with James Shaw Jr., the diner who risked his own life to fight back against suspected shooter Travis Reinking. The 29-year-old father is crediting with grabbing an AR-15 off Reinking, who now faces murder charges.
“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,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah confirmed during a White House briefing, according to CNN. “Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had open fired.”
Shah added that he was uncertain as to whether or not Shaw had been invited to the White House to be thanked in person.
Pres. Trump telephoned James Shaw Jr., who disarmed a shooter at a Tennessee Waffle House last month, said WH deputy press secretary Raj Shah. "Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had opened fire" https://t.co/oZpv9o5zGD https://t.co/MWKuJHUbM2
— CNN (@CNN) May 14, 2018
The call was made after sharp criticism of Trump’s delay in acknowledging Shaw’s heroism in the incident April 22. In addition to disarming the shooter and preventing further loss of life, the Tennessee native has devoted his newfound hero status to raising funds for families of those killed and wounded in the shooting. He has appeared on Ellen, met with student survivors of the Parkland shooting, and been honored by lawmakers in his home state.
Meeting the young adults of the Parkland incident so much fire and inspiration in their eyes was a great joy pic.twitter.com/DLPJ01K8e2
— James Shaw Jr. (@JamesShawJr9) May 12, 2018
Though Vice President Mike Pence hailed Shaw as an “American hero” last month and press secretary Sarah Sanders has floated the idea of inviting him to the White House, Trump’s reticence was seen as a grave omission. Some speculated that the slight was racially motivated, as Shaw is black.
Tragic shooting in Tennessee earlier this week. Thanks James Shaw Jr. for your courageous actions to save lives and your continued efforts to help others. You’re an American HERO! https://t.co/vyA6B3N1eu
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 26, 2018
USA Today reports that U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) was among those who lashed out at Trump for waiting to connect with Shaw.
“Shaw is one of our nation’s cultural heroes, and the fact it took the president this long to acknowledge him speaks volumes,” Cohen said in a statement. “While the president may not have demonstrated his own quick thinking in this regard, it is better late than never that he has done so.”
Took #Trump 3weeks to bother to call #JamesShawJr,who disarmed a gunman at a TN #WaffleHouse.He noted #JamesShaw's "quick thinking" but didn't"think quickly"to call him.I suggested to @MSNBC's @AlexWitt that Trump's "slow thinking"may be due to Shaw's race.https://t.co/x1ELeIFcEh pic.twitter.com/MkGCXYFcqJ
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) May 14, 2018
Cohen’s not alone. News of Trump’s call was met with skepticism from many critics.
Things @realDonaldTrump had time to do since a white man killed four people of color at a Waffle House:
-Play four rounds of golf
-Send 126 tweets
-Condemn mass killings in Paris and Toronto
-Travel to IN, OH, TX and MI
Things he didn't have time to do:
-Call James Shaw Jr.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) May 14, 2018
He found the time to congratulate Putin on his election. It took him a month to call Mr. Shaw. This was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
— ThatWitchYouKnow (@ThatWitchUKnow) May 14, 2018
About time. He called Rosanne faster than that. Geesh
— Luvsamples (@luvsamples) May 14, 2018
Key words “Last month.”
— Mike Thompson (@tcumike) May 14, 2018
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
Ivanka Trump was blessed by a rabbi who said women who dress immodestly are like animals
Melania Trump just underwent a kidney embolization — here’s what that means
‘Melania’ is now one of the most popular baby names