On Monday morning, May 14, President Donald Trump called James Shaw Jr., the 29-year-old man who wrestled a firearm from a suspected gunman at a Waffle House in Tennessee. Trump's call to the "Waffle House hero" came three weeks after the shooting at the restaurant, which resulted in the murder of four people on Sunday, April 22, and could have claimed more lives without Shaw's actions. The call was announced during a press briefing on Monday by White House principle deputy press secretary Raj Shah.
"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," Shah said during the briefing. "Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had opened fire."
When asked by reporter April Ryan why Shaw hadn't been congratulated in person, Shah responded, "I honestly, I don’t know if he was invited. I just honestly don’t have more for you on that."
That Trump had not called Shaw sooner, or publicly acknowledged the victims of the attack, is a fact that led to criticism of the president.
The night after Shaw intervened during the Waffle House shooting, CNN's Don Lemon's closed a segment by saying, "It would be nice if [Trump] tweeted about the four people who lost their lives in the Waffle House, the four black people who lost their lives, and the black hero from that, but not unless it's a Muslim does he tweet about something like that."
Lemon was far from alone in criticizing the president. The New York Daily News was also skeptical of the president's lack of response. "This morning [President Trump] took time to complain about Democrats, NAFTA and immigration," a tweet from the paper's official account read on Monday, April 23. "There have been zero tweets about the #WaffleHouse victims or the courageous black man, James Shaw, Jr., whose heroism may have prevented a further loss of life."
James Shaw himself, however, wasn't among the critics.
When asked by CNN's Van Jones whether or not the president had contacted him, Shaw responded, "At this time I haven’t heard anything, but that’s not to say he didn’t try to contact me or not."
After Jones pressed the issue, asking Shaw whether a lack of contact with the White House stuck out as Trump publicly acknowledged other people, like Kanye West, Shaw replied, "I know he has a busy agenda, busy schedule. Maybe he just hasn’t gotten around to me, maybe my time is coming. It’s not for me to judge really what he does, it's just, you know, I did what I did and I didn’t really do it for recognition. I did it just to save my life, honestly.
Van Jones questioning was later criticized as an attempt to "bait" Shaw into criticizing the president.
It was clear, however, why Jones asked the question. During his presidency, Trump has been criticized by members of both major parties — at one point or another — for a contrast in how he reacts to tragedies perpetrated by members of one group versus tragedies perpetrated by others.
That contrast presented itself on Sunday, May 13, as Trump speedily reacted to a murder suspected to be carried out by a member of ISIS.
"So sad to see the Terror Attack in Paris. At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on," Trump tweeted. "This kind of sickness & hatred is not compatible with a loving, peaceful, & successful country! Changes to our thought process on terror must be made."
Trump did not tweet about the victims of the Waffle House shooting.