Early on Sunday, April 22, a man clad only in a jacket shot and killed two people outside a Waffle House in Tennessee with an assault rifle. The shooter, now identified as Travis Reinking, walked inside the restaurant where he killed two people and injured four. James Shaw Jr., a customer inside Waffle House at the time, found an opportunity to successfully wrestle the assault rifle away from Travis Reinking. Following this scuffle, Reinking fled the scene. Cable News Network (CNN) reported that on Monday, April 24, Travis Reinking was apprehended in a wooded area by his residence in Nashville, Tennessee following a tip from the community after a 35-hour manhunt. Reinking is now being charged with four counts of criminal homicide.
The Daily Local reported that the motive as to why Travis Reinking fatally shot four victims Sunday morning is ambiguous. However, Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson expressed Reinking may have “mental issues.” The shooter originates from Illinois and authorities there shared prior incidents involving him. According to the Daily Local, these accounts suggest that the shooter is troubled. One account stated that in 2016, Reinking claimed that he was a victim of stalking and phone hacking by Taylor Swift. Another account indicated that Travis Reinking entered an Illinois community pool and jumped into the water wearing only a woman’s jacket and his underwear in June 2017. Then, in July 2017, the Secret Service arrested the Waffle House shooter after he crossed a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave. Reinking was not armed during this occurrence but the FBI requested that Illinois State Police revoke his state firearms card. Four guns were seized from Reinking at the time, including the assault rifle used in the shooting on Sunday morning. These guns were returned to the Reinking’s father under the provision that the guns would be kept out of his son’s possession. Reinking’s father ended up returning the guns to his son anyway. Shortly after, Reinking moved to Nashville, Tennessee where the Waffle House shooting took place.
The two victims shot and killed in the parking lot outside the restaurant have now been identified as Taurean Sanderlin and Joe Perez. Sanderlin, an employee of the Waffle House, was 29 years old. Perez was 20 years old. The victims killed inside the restaurant have been identified as DeEbony Groves and Akilah Dasilva. Groves was 21 years old and a student at Belmont University. Dasilva was a 23-year-old rap artist and music video producer. According to the Daily Local, he was also a student at Middle Tennessee State University. He was at the Waffle House with his girlfriend, Tia Waggoner. Waggoner was injured during the shooting but is being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
James Shaw Jr. is being hailed as a hero for his courageous actions inside the Waffle House during the shooting, but Shaw Jr. does not want the label. Shaw Jr. was injured while wrestling with Reinking for the weapon as a bullet grazed his elbow and he burned his hand grabbing the barrel of the rifle. NBC News reports that the hearing for Reinking is set for May 7, 2018.
Jessica Ferguson is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. ✉ JF830568@wcupa.edu