Nashville police hunt for Waffle House shooting suspect who may still be armed

Police search for Travis Reinking as more details emerge about suspected shooter, who previously had his firearms seized by police

As an intensive manhunt continued on Monday for a half-naked man suspected in the shooting deaths of four people at a Waffle House restaurant, authorities shared reports of previous efforts to contain the gun-loving man with paranoid delusions.

More than 80 Nashville police officers continued to search for Travis Reinking, authorities said. Agents with the FBI, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and troopers with the Tennessee highway patrol joined the manhunt.

Reinking was nearly naked, wearing only a green jacket, and brandishing an assault-style rifle when he opened fire in the parking lot at 3.25am on Sunday and then stormed the restaurant, police say. Four people were killed and four were injured before a customer wrestled the gun away.

Metropolitan Nashville police chief Steve Anderson said at a news conference that Reinking, 29, was last seen Sunday around a wooded area near an apartment complex where he lived, wearing only pants and no shirt or shoes. He may still be armed, Anderson said, because he was known to have owned a handgun authorities have not recovered.

Hes on foot, Anderson said. Unless hes been picked up by a car, he would be fairly close. We dont want to alarm people but certainly everybody should take precautions. It could be hes in an unoccupied house. We want everybody to be concerned. Neighbors should check on each other.

Nashville public schools would go into lock-out mode if Reinking was not found in time for class on Monday, officials said. That means students will be free to move about the building, but no guests or visitors will be allowed to enter.

As the search continued, authorities in Illinois shared reports suggesting multiple red flags about a disturbed young man who liked firearms. In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell county, Illinois, that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved.

Another sheriffs report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June, and jumped into the water wearing a pink womans coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.

Travis
Travis Reinking was wearing only a green jacket and brandishing a rifle when he opened fire in the parking lot and stormed the restaurant, police say. Photograph: Reuters

Last July, Reinking was arrested by the secret service after he crossed into a restricted area near the White House, saying he wanted to meet Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed but at the FBIs request police in Illinois revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns, authorities said. The AR-15 used in the shootings was among the firearms seized.

Then, in August, Reinking told police he wanted to file a report on about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone, and people barking like dogs outside his residence, according to a report. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the report said.

Theres certainly evidence that theres some sort of mental health issues involved, Tazwell county sheriff Robert Huston said. But he said deputies returned the guns to Reinkings father on the promise he would keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said Reinkings father has now acknowledged giving them back to his son.

After the shooting, police recovered three of the four guns taken from Reinking, officials said. They believe he still has at least one handgun. Phone calls to a number listed for the father, Jeffrey Reinking, went unanswered.

It is not clear why Reinking moved recently from Morton, Illinois, to Nashville and if it had anything to do with being near Swift. Police say he was employed in construction for a while.

The
The Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, scene of the shooting on Sunday. Photograph: Rick Musacchio/EPA

Police say Reinking drove into the Waffle House parking lot in his gold Chevy Silverado pickup and sat there for about four minutes before opening fire. The victims in the parking were identified as Taurean Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe Perez, 20, of Nashville. Sanderlin was an employee at the restaurant.

Perezs mother posted a picture of her son on Facebook. Me, my husband and sons are broken right now with this loss, Trisha Perez said. Our lives are shattered.

Reinking then went inside the restaurant, police said. One of those killed inside was DeEbony Groves, a 21-year student at Belmont University. She was remembered as an exceptional student who made the Deans list, and a tenacious basketball player.

She was a brilliant young lady, very, very intelligent and a very hard worker, Gallatin High School basketball coach Kim Kendrick told the Tennessean.

Akilah Dasilva was also killed. The 23-year-old from Antioch was a rap artist and music video producer who was a favorite among many of Music Citys independent musicians and recording labels, the Tennessean reported.

Music is my life and I will never stop until I achieve my dreams, Dasilva said on his Twitter account.

Dasilvas mother told CBS her son was a student at Middle Tennessee State University. He was at the restaurant with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Tia Waggoner, the paper reported. Waggoner was being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dasilvas family said doctors were trying to save her leg.

Police said Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, was wounded and is being treated at VUMC. Also wounded was James Shaw Jr, a 29-year-old man who burned his hand grabbing the hot muzzle of the assault weapon as he wrestled the gun away. A wireless technician for AT&T, Shaw said he was no hero despite being hailed as one by Nashville mayor David Briley.

Shaw said he pounced on the suspect out of self-preservation, after making up his mind that he was going to have to work to kill me.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Marissa SafontNashville police hunt for Waffle House shooting suspect who may still be armed

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