Authorities have captured the gunman suspected of killing four during an attack on a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville on Sunday. The man was apprehended in a wooded area.
“Murder suspect Travis Reinking is in custody. Arrested moments ago,” the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department tweeted on Monday afternoon.
Reinking had been on the run since the early hours of Sunday, fleeing the Waffle House half naked after a customer wrestled him for the assault rifle.
Metro Nashville PD
BREAKING: Travis Reinking apprehended moments ago in a wooded area near Old Hickory Blvd & Hobson Pk. pic.twitter.com/00ukga37s6
April 23, 2018
Reinking, 29, was believed to have grabbed another gun and was being hunted by federal, state and local law enforcement before being apprehended.
He was caught on Monday afternoon after a tip from a member of the public led investigators to a construction site, where workers said a person had entered the woods.
Investigators followed a pathway and spread out, then one officer saw a man from the back and when he turned around he matched the description of Reinking.
Nashville’s police lieutenant Carlos Lara said the man laid down on the ground when ordered to and was handcuffed. When police then cut a backpack from his back and looked inside they found a semi-automatic handgun, Lara said.
Meanwhile, the customer, who had popped into the restaurant for food after a night out clubbing and found himself snatching an assault rifle from the suspect after he opened fire, is being hailed as a hero.
The shooting happened at 3.25am on Sunday.
James Shaw told how he was grazed with a bullet and suffered bumps and bruises when he tackled the shooter, who was wearing only a green jacket when he opened fire at a branch of the Waffle House chain. Four more people were injured.
“This morning I woke up thinking about the people who passed away and about the other victims and hoping that people are as concerned about them as they are about me,” Shaw told NBC on Monday.
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About 80 Nashville police, as well as troopers from the Tennessee highway patrol and agents from the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had searched for Reinking, who was last seen shirtless and shoeless near some woods in the area.
Reinking had a history of problems with mental illness. He had his guns confiscated in Illinois last year, after he tried to get into the White House to see Donald Trump. He also claimed the singer Taylor Swift was stalking him. His guns were returned in circumstances that were not immediately fully explained, although a police spokesman said Reinking’s father had admitted handing them back.
Shaw first heard shots as he sat at the counter, he said, having just entered the restaurant. He thought the sound was that of plates falling and smashing.
“But then I saw Waffle House employees scatter,” he said. “And I looked behind me and saw a gentleman lying on the ground by the entrance.”
Police said Reinking had driven into the Waffle House parking lot in his gold Chevy Silverado pickup and sat for about four minutes before opening fire. His victims in the lot were Taurean Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe Perez, 20, of Nashville. Sanderlin was an employee at the restaurant.
Reinking then shot into the restaurant before entering. One of those killed inside was DeEbony Groves, a 21-year-old student at Belmont University. The other was Akilah Dasilva, a 23-year-old from Antioch who was a rap artist and music video producer. He was with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Tia Waggoner. Dasilva’s family said doctors at Vanderbilt University medical center were trying to save her leg.
Police said Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, was also wounded and being treated at Vanderbilt. Two people suffered minor injuries and were released on Sunday.
Shaw dived for cover behind a swing door, he said. Reinking began shooting through it, grazing Shaw’s arm below the elbow. Then Shaw saw the barrel of the gun dipping downwards, he said. It appeared to have jammed, or perhaps Reinking was trying to reload.
Shaw said he acted after deciding “he was going to have to work to kill me”. He ran through the door, which hit the gunman, and the two men ended up “kind of scuffling”. Despite the fact that the barrel of the AR-15 rifle was scorching hot, Shaw grabbed it. His hand was bandaged when he spoke.
“I pushed the gun so the barrel bumped down and was pointing towards the ground, then I held that with my left hand and was punching him with my right hand,” he said. “At one point he had the gun in just one hand and then I was able to hold it in two hands and get it and throw it over the counter.”
The suspect was blocking the exit. “So I took him out with me,” Shaw said. The two men ran in different directions.