Nashville Waffle House Shooting

George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP

Search On For Suspect After Tennessee Waffle House Shooting Leaves 4 Dead

April 22, 2018 - 11:30 am

NASHVILLE (1010 WINS/AP) -- Four people were killed, and four others were injured, in a shooting at a Waffle House in Tennessee early Sunday.

Police credited a customer with saving lives by wresting a weapon away from the gunman.

Nashville police said six people were shot – including the four who died – in the incident at the Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee at 3:30 a.m. local time, ABC News reported.

The dead were identified as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C. Sanderlin, and restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and Deebony Groves, 21. A police statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant, Groves was fatally shot inside, and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Two of those who died at the scene were fatally shot outside the restaurant, and one was shot inside, police told ABC News. A fourth person was pronounced dead at a hospital, ABC News reported.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said via its Twitter account that authorities are searching for 29-year-old Travis Reinking, formerly of Morton, Illinois. Police said he was named as a person of interest because the pickup truck that the gunman used to drive to the restaurant was registered to Reinking.

A 29-year-old restaurant patron, James Shaw Jr., grabbed the rifle from the suspect and tossed it over a counter, Aaron said.

"No doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and tossing it over the counter and prompting the man to leave," Aaron said. He called the patron a "hero."

Shaw described how he was able to get the rifle away from the gunman. He said he had been out with his best friend at a club in the area, and went to the Murfreesboro Pike Waffle House after another Waffle House turned out to be too crowded.

Upon arriving, Shaw saw the gold Silverado the gunman arrived in, as well as the silhouette of his face – but he said he could not judge anything based on appearance at that point.

Shaw and his friend sat down in the restaurant, and saw the cook washing dishes and stacking plates so high that they looked like they might fall.

“When we first heard what I now know what a gunshot, I thought it was plates crashing,” Shaw said.

But then there were more shots fired outside the restaurant. Shaw said then saw someone lying on the ground as the employees scattered.

The gunman then came into the restaurant and fired more shots. Shaw said he went behind a swivel door which the gunman shot through, and, he said, “I’m pretty sure he grazed my arm.”

“It was at that time that I made up my mind, because there’s no way,” Shaw said.

The gun either jammed or the gunman was reloading it, and Shaw said he ran up and hit the gunman with the swivel door. They scuffled, Shaw said, and, “I managed to get him with one hand on the gun, and I grabbed it from him, and I threw it over the countertop.”

Shaw then got the gunman out of the restaurant, where the gunman tried to escape in a “walk-trot pace.”

The suspect, wearing only a green jacket, shed the jacket after fleeing the restaurant. Aaron said he lived at an apartment complex in the area and, based on witness reports, went to the complex and put on a pair of pants.

Aaron said witnesses saw a man in a nearby wooded area, and police were still tracking the man, more than six hours after the 3:25 a.m. shooting.

It is believed that Reinking fled the immediate area on foot. It was not known where he was Sunday afternoon.

Reinking moved to Nashville from downstate Illinois last year, and worked in the crane or construction trade, Aaron said. He was fired about three weeks ago from one employer and recently got hired by another, but has not shown up to work since Tuesday.

Reinking was arrested by the Secret Service for being in a restricted area near the White House in June 2017, and was later released, Aaron said.

He was then interviewed by authorities in Tazewell County, Illinois and the FBI and his Illinois firearms license was revoked, Aaron said. Four guns were confiscated by Tazewell County authorities – including the one that was used on Sunday, Aaron said.

The guns were all returned to Reinking’s father, who admitted to giving them back to his son, Aaron said.

Nashville Mayor David Briley said the shooting represents "a tragic day" for the city.

"My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning's shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime," Briley said on Twitter.

Briley also praised Shaw’s actions, and called for gun reform.

“We need comprehensive gun reform to address mass shootings, domestic shootings, accidental shootings, and homicides,” Briley said at the news conference. “If we can all just come together for the greater good, we can take these weapons of war off the streets of our city.”

(Copyright 2018 1010 WINS. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)