Nashville Waffle House shooter led police on rush-hour chase days before shooting

"This guy was not on our radar,” police said.

Police chased the Nashville Waffle House shooter and the car he allegedly stole through rush-hour traffic just days before he open fired on the restaurant and killed four people.

The alleged shooter, Travis Reinking, 29, posed as a customer at a Brentwood BMW dealership on Tuesday, April 17, stole a vehicle key fob from a salesperson, and drove away from the dealership, according to Brentwood Police. At the time, however, police hadn’t identified the person responsible as Reinking. Five days later, he’d show up to a Waffle House with an AR-15, wearing nothing but a green jacket.


Ignoring officers' lights and sirens to pull over, Reinking sped toward his apartment in rush-hour traffic in the stolen car and successfully evaded police. The officers ultimately tracked the car back to Reinking’s apartment building using the car’s GPS. The car, however, was unoccupied.

“This guy was not on our radar,” Assistant Chief of Police for the Brentwood Police Department Tommy Walsh told VICE News.

Police didn’t make the connection until after Reinking allegedly killed four people and wounded multiple others at the Waffle House early Sunday morning. After a patron wrestled the gun away from him, Reinking allegedly fled the scene on foot and proceeded to lead state and local law enforcement on a 34-hour manhunt. The search ended in the woods near his apartment on Monday afternoon, when officers finally arrested him.

READ: What we know about the Nashville Waffle House shooter's arrest

Officers found the stolen car later Tuesday evening and returned it to the dealership. It’s still unclear how or if the car theft and the shooting are connected — Reinking drove a different car, registered to him, to the Waffle House on Sunday. Police used that registration to link Reinking to the shooting.

Then, the detective assigned to the car-theft case started noticing parallels between the car theft and the shooting: Where the suspect lived, where the stolen car was left, and the description of the man all matched.

Then, when Reinking’s apartment was searched after the shooting, police found the car keys.

Cover image: Screenshot of video provided by the Brentwood Police Department.