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What we know about the Nashville Waffle House shooter

Police are hunting for suspect Travis Reinking, who fled the scene on foot, naked except for a green jacket.

by Christianna Silva
Apr 23 2018, 2:57pm

Metro Nashville Police

A massive manhunt continued for a second day for the man suspected of killing four people and wounding others after opening fire with an assault-style weapon at a Waffle House near Nashville Sunday morning, according to Nashville police. The man, who was naked except for a green jacket, fled the scene on foot, returned home to put on pants, and disappeared.

Suspect Travis Reinking, 29, is considered likely armed and dangerous; residents are being asked to stay inside. Metro Nashville Public school are being placed in “lockout” mode for the duration of the search, according to the Washington Post.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said there haven’t been any “credible sightings” of the suspected gunman after an intense overnight search by local, state, and federal law enforcement officers.

The police department said the man began shooting outside the restaurant at about 3:25 a.m., wearing only a green jacket. He first shot at people in the parking lot, then continued firing as he headed inside the Waffle House, breaking one of the restaurant’s glass windows. Police say when he took a break, presumably to reload, a patron wrestled the gun away from him. The suspect then fled on foot.

What do we know about the shooter?

  • The suspect, identified by police as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, is still at large, and likely armed. He has murder warrants against him.
  • He is described as a white man with short hair, and is the registered owner of the gun and the vehicle he arrived in.
  • He was wearing a green jacket at the time of the shooting, but was last seen in a wooded area wearing black pants and no shirt. Police said there have been no “credible” sightings of him since Sunday.
  • He was arrested in July 2017 for entering a restricted area of the White House. The Secret Service said he was trying to set up a meeting with the president.
  • His Illinois firearms authorization was revoked after his arrest, and the police seized all of his weapons, including the AR-15 he used at the Waffle House shooting. A pistol, another of the weapons seized from him after the incident, is missing from his apartment. Police believe his father received the weapons from authorities after they were taken away from him, and later returned them to his son.
  • In May 2016, Reinking's parents called emergency services to report their son was suicidal and thought Taylor Swift was stalking him, according to incident reports obtained by CNN."
  • There is no known motive. “He’s murdered four times with no apparent reason and no apparent motive,” Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson told reporters at a news conference Sunday. “So we’re very concerned.”

What do we know about the victims?

  • Three people died at the scene and the fourth died after being taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said.
  • According to CNN, authorities identified the victims as Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee; Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville; Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch; and DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, Tennessee.
  • Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville, and Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, are still in critical condition, according to the Washington Post.

What do we know about the hero who stopped the shooting?

  • Waffle House customer James Shaw Jr., 29, waited in the bathroom until he heard a pause in the firing, presumably while he was reloading his weapon, and ambushed the suspect. He wrestled the gun away from him, and tossed the gun over the counter. “I'm a believer that everybody could do what I did,” Shaw told CNN affiliate WSMV-TV.
  • Shaw was grazed by a bullet in his elbow, and burned his right hand grabbing the barrel of the weapon.
  • He created a GoFundMe page on Sunday to help the victims of the shooting, which has already exceeded its goal.
  • He has been lauded as a hero by the community. “He is the hero here, and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and then tossing it over the counter and prompting the man to leave,” Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron told CNN. “You’re a hero. You’re my hero…. We’re forever in your debt,” Walt Ehmer, Waffle House’s president and chief executive, told Shaw at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Cover image: Headshot of suspect Travis Reinking distributed by the Metro Nashville Police.

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