Travis Reinking, 29, stormed into a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday morning, and armed with an AR-15 he shot and killed four people before being rushed by a customer and disarmed.
Reinking is on the run and authorities are hunting him down. He drove up to the restaurant, shooting two people in the parking lot and continuing his shooting inside Waffle House. It’s reported the rifle was either jammed or the magazine was empty, when one customer tackled him for the gun.
An additional four people were wounded during the attack, before the gunman ran, disrobing himself in the process. Reinking was only wear a green jacket during the attack.
Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said the 29-year-old may have “mental issues,” and there is no apparent motive for the shooting. Authorities suspect he may still be armed, since they know he owns a handgun also.
“U.S. Secret Service agents arrested Reinking last July for being in a restricted area near the White House, officials said. Special Agent Todd Hudson said Reinking was detained after refusing to leave the restricted area, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump,” reports Fox5Atlanta.
According to Illinois State police, where Reinking resided during the time, his firearms license was revoked at the request of the FBI; having four firearms seized, two of which are the guns involved in Sunday’s shooting.
Sheriff Robert Huston in Tazewell County, Illinois, reported that the man’s father took possession of the guns and was allowed to keep them so long as he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.” Based on past deputies’ encounters with Reinking, “there’s certainly evidence that there’s some sort of mental health issues involved,” Huston added.
According to Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron, Reinking’s father “has now acknowledged giving them back to his son.”
BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately. pic.twitter.com/duoWCo5fC0
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
The customer who tackled the shooter was identified as James Shaw, Jr., 29, who is a father of a 4-year-old girl. Authorities are calling him a hero, while Shaw said he just wanted to survive the shooting.
Speaking to reporters, Shaw explained he first believed the gunshots fired at 3:25am were plates falling down from a washing station. After realizing what was really occurring, he took cover. When the gun malfunctioned or needed to be reloaded, Shaw decided to attack saying, “he was going to have to work to kill me.”
Shaw, stated he isn’t religious, but “for a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get the gun from him.” Cursing each other during the fight, Shaw said he got hold of the gun and tossed it over a counter. It is then that Reinking ran into the early morning darkness of the Antioch neighborhood in Nashville.
It’s a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning’s shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime.
— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) April 22, 2018
Via Fox5Atlanta: Authorities said he shed his jacket nearby and police found two AR-15 magazines loaded with bullets in the pockets. He was seen walking, naked, on a road, officials said, but later was spotted wearing pants but no shirt after apparently returning to his apartment.
Another witness, Chuck Cordero, told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the Waffle House when the chaos unfolded.
“He did not say anything,” Cordero said of the gunman, who he described as “all business.”
Cordero said Shaw saved lives. “There was plenty more people in that restaurant,” he said.
The dead were identified as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C. Sanderlin, and restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21. A police statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant, Groves was fatally shot inside, and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Aaron, the police spokesman, said two of the wounded were being treated for gunshot wounds at the medical center, where spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel said one was in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition.
TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Radel in Nashville said two people were treated for minor injuries and released.
Aaron said Reinking had been employed in construction and lived near the restaurant, and police used yellow crime scene tape to block public access to an apartment complex about a half-mile from the Waffle House. Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois.
“This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family,” the company tweeted. “We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley made a statement in an email. “My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded,” Briley said. “I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, whose district includes Nashville, said in an emailed statement that the shooting shows the need for tighter restrictions on “widespread civilian access to military-grade assault weapons.”
Nashville Chief Anderson said there was no Tennessee law that would have barred Reinking from having guns, though weapons could be taken away if the suspect had serious mental health issues. That would require taking him to court and having his rights taken away because of illness, a sometimes lengthy and difficult process, Anderson said.
Police reports filed in Illinois showed past run-ins with authorities there.
In May 2016, Tazewell County deputies were called to a CVS parking lot where Reinking told officers that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved, according to a report released Sunday. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the report said.
Another report from the sheriff’s office said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman’s coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.
After a manhunt that lasted more than 24 hours, the suspected gunman in an attack on a Nashville-area Waffle House is in custody.
The Nashville Police Department said that 29-year-old Travis Reinking had been arrested just moments ago in a wooded area near Old Hickory Blvd not far from his apartment.
BREAKING: Travis Reinking apprehended moments ago in a wooded area near Old Hickory Blvd & Hobson Pk. pic.twitter.com/00ukga37s6
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 23, 2018
A detective from the department’s specialized investigations unit narcotics division spotted Reinking in a wood area near a construction site, Lt. Carlos Lara told news reporters.
He said construction workers told officers a person matching the suspect’s description walked through the area and into woods. When confronted, the suspect lay down on the ground, and officers cuffed him, Lara said.
He said Reinking carried a black backpack that held a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition. Detectives cut the backpack off of the suspect, he said.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said Reinking requested a lawyer, was taken to a hospital and would later be booked on four counts of criminal homicide.
More than 100 Nashville police officers had been going door-to-door and searching wooded areas, joined by dozens of agents with the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Police said he had stolen a BMW days before the attack. The car was quickly recovered, but authorities did not immediately link it to Reinking.