A deadly shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in suburban Nashville in the early morning hours of April 22, 2018 ended with four people dead and another four wounded before a heroe patron wrestled the gun away from the shooter. After being disarmed, the shooter, identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking, fled on foot. Reinking was taken into custody the next day not far from his apartment complex, after an intense 34 hour manhunt.
Reinking reportedly arrived at the Waffle House naked, except for a jacket, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle just after 3am. He fatally shot two people just outside the Waffle House, 20 year old Joe Perez and 29 year old waffle house employee Taurean C. Sanderlin before entering and continuing his rampage. Once inside, he killed DeEbony Groves and shot 23 year old Akilah DaSilva, who was rushed to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he later died.
DaSilva’s 21-year-old girlfriend Shanita Waggoner and 24-year-old Sharita Henderson were also shot and wounded in the shooting. Two other people were wounded by breaking glass during the shooting. Twenty-nine year old James Shaw Jr., who suffered a bullet graze wound, has been hailed a hero for ending the bloodshed. Shaw hid near the restaurant’s bathrooms when the shooting began but when he saw an opportunity, he rushed the shooter and wrestled the rifle away. The gunman then fled on foot, leaving behind his rifle and ammunition.
Reinking was from Morton, Illinois but moved to the Nashville area in the Fall of 2017. He has had a history of erratic and delusional behavior. In May 2016, Tazewell County police responded to a call from Reinking’s parents in the parking lot of a drugstore, where a paramedic said Reinking had delusions that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone. Reinking had previously lived in an apartment above his father’s crane rental business in Tremont, Illinois. In June 2017, an employee of the business called police, saying Reinking had come downstairs carrying a rifle, wearing a pink dress, and using an expletive before tossing the rifle in his trunk and leaving the building. On another occasion around the same time, a public pool director called police to report Reinking had come to the pool in a “pink women’s housecoat” and then exposed himself to lifeguards.
In July 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking near the White House after he crossed a barrier and refused to leave. The Secret Service said Reinking had said he “wanted to set up a meeting with the president.” Reinking was charged with a misdemeanor, unlawful entry and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in July 2017. Reinking performed 32 hours of community service and was ordered to stay away from the White House. Reinking successfully completed the program in November 2017 and the court dismissed the case.
A month after his arrest, Illinois authorities revoked his state firearms authorization and seized four of his weapons, including the AR-15 used in the Nashville shooting. Two additional rifles and a handgun were also seized. The sheriff of Tazewell County, Illinois, said that Reinking’s father, Jeffrey Reinking held a valid state authorization card and asked sheriff’s deputies whether he could keep the guns. They allowed him to do so after he assured them he would keep them secure and away from his son. Reinking’s father now could face criminal charges after he admitted that he eventually gave all four guns back to his son which is potentially a violation of federal law.