Massive manhunt for Waffle House shooting suspect

Posted at 6:24 AM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 08:24:15-04

(CNN) – A massive manhunt is underway for the gunman accused of killing four people early Sunday at a Waffle House near Nashville, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has added 29-year-old Travis Reinking to its "Top 10 Most Wanted" list after he allegedly opened fire at the restaurant in Antioch, southeast of Nashville at 3:19 a.m.

Reinking’s alleged motive is unknown and authorities warn that he may still be armed with a rifle and a hand gun.

The hunt

After Reinking fled the scene of the shooting completely naked, police believe he went to his apartment, put on a pair of pants and may have escaped into the woods.

"A man believed to be Travis Reinking was last seen in a wood line near Discovery at Mountain View Apts. on Mountain Springs Drive near the Waffle House," police tweeted. "The man was seen wearing black pants and no shirt."

A police helicopter and a police dog tried to track the suspect after the shooting, but the dogs lost the scent, police said.

Nashville police said more than 80 officers are now searching for Reinking with the help of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"He’s murdered four times with no apparent reason and no apparent motive. So we’re very concerned," said Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson.

Police have warned residents to keep their doors locked and "eyes open."

Nashville schools will follow lock-out procedures Monday until police notify education authorities that the suspect is no longer in the area, Metro Nashville Public Schools said on Facebook. Lock-out means no guests or visitors will be allowed inside school buildings.

Sheriff’s deputies 400 miles north of Nashville in Tazewell County, Illinois, where Reinking recently lived, are also on high alert.

What we know about the shooter

Reinking is from Morton, Illinois and is believed to have moved to the Nashville area last fall. He worked in construction and was fired from a job about three weeks ago, police said.

They said the suspect started with another construction company last Monday but did not show up for work Tuesday.

According to police, Reinking was arrested by the Secret Service for trespassing near the White House in July 2017.

Reinking said he wanted to meet with US President Donald Trump and told a Secret Service officer at the northeast entrance that he was a "sovereign citizen" who had a "right to inspect the grounds," according to a Metropolitan Police Department incident report dated July 7, 2017.

He was charged with unlawful entry, an arrest report states, but the charges were dismissed after he completed community service.

At the FBI’s request, Reinking’s Illinois firearms authorization was revoked, and four weapons — including the AR-15 style rifle used in the Sunday’s shooting — were seized

Authorities in Tazewell County, Illinois, later returned the seized weapons to Reinking’s father, who gave them back to his son, police said.

Authorities so far have recovered two weapons, including one found Sunday at Reinking’s one-bedroom apartment, police said. But they are concerned he may have the two others.

In May 2016, Reinking experienced a delusional episode telling first responders that he believed pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him, according to a police report.

Reinking’s family also told police he had made comments about killing himself.

What happened inside the restaurant

Reinking arrived at the Waffle House wearing nothing but a green jacket, Metro Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said.

The suspected gunman sat in his pickup truck for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes "just looking at people inside the restaurant," Aaron said.

Reinking then got out of his pickup, wielding an "assault-type rifle," and fatally shot two people outside the Waffle House, police said.

"He then went inside the restaurant (and) continued firing," Aaron said. He said police responded to an active shooter call at 3:25 a.m.

Some witnesses suffered cuts on their faces from shattered windows. Two more victims inside the restaurant were fatally shot.

The victims

Reinking is accused of fatally shooting Waffle House employee Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee and customer Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville outside of the restaurant, police said. Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch, who was shot inside, later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, according to authorities.

DeEbony Groves, 21 of Gallatin, Tennessee, was fatally wounded in the restaurant, police said.

Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville, and Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, were injured by gunfire and were being treated at Vanderbilt.

The hero

The carnage stopped only because of the heroics of a customer, James Shaw Jr., who monitored the gunman’s moves from afar and jumped into action when he saw an opportunity.

"He saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point, the shots had stopped. So he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter. At that point, the gunman then fled," Aaron said.

At a news conference, Shaw denied that he was a hero, saying his actions were "a selfish act" to save himself.

Shaw has started a GoFundMe account to assist victims of the shooting, a GoFundMe spokeswoman told CNN. Within hours, the $15,000 goal had almost been met.

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