Tuesday 23 October 2018

On-the-run Waffle House gun massacre suspect 'may still be armed'

Travis Reinking opened fire at a restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early hours of Sunday morning, killing four people, police said

Bullet holes in the windows of the Waffle House
Bullet holes in the windows of the Waffle House

Sheila Burke

Authorities searching for a man accused of killing four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, have mobilised in force to find a man last seen walking away from the carnage, barefoot and shirtless.

The Tennessean reported multiple gunshots being fired on Monday morning in a wooded area near Nashville’s Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, which police are using as a staging area for the manhunt. It is unclear whether these shots were connected to the search for 29-year-old Travis Reinking.

Police believe Reinking may be armed with one of the four guns seized from him last year after he tried to enter the White House to see US president Donald Trump.

Burnette Chapel was itself the scene of an unrelated mass shooting during a Sunday morning worship service last September in which one person was killed and six others wounded. Both the church and the Waffle House are in the Antioch area of south-eastern Nashville.

More than 80 Nashville police officers have been joined in the search by agents with the FBI, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Reinking was wearing only a green jacket when he opened fire with an AR-15 in the Waffle House car park and then stormed the restaurant shortly after 3am on Sunday, police say.

Four people were killed and four others were injured before quick-thinking customer James Shaw Jr wrestled the assault weapon away, preventing more bloodshed.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a news conference that Reinking was last seen early Sunday around a wooded area near an apartment complex where he lived, wearing only trousers and no shirt or shoes.

Mr Anderson said it is not clear why Reinking opened fire on restaurant patrons, though he may have “mental issues”. He said the suspect may still be armed with a handgun which authorities have not recovered.

Last July, Reinking was arrested by the US Secret Service after he crossed into a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Trump. Reinking was not armed at the time, but at the FBI’s request, state police in Illinois revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns from him, authorities said. The AR-15 used in the shootings was among the firearms seized.

The victims fatally shot in the Waffle House car park have been identified as Taurean Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe Perez, 20, of Nashville. Mr Sanderlin was an employee at the restaurant.

Reinking then went inside the restaurant and opened fire, police said. One of the fatally wounded inside was DeEbony Groves, a 21-year student at Nashville’s Belmont University. She was remembered as an exceptional student who made the Dean’s list, and a tenacious basketball player.

Akilah Dasilva was also killed inside the restaurant. The 23-year-old from Antioch was a rap artist and music video producer who had such skills behind the camera that he was a favorite among many of Music City’s independent musicians and recording labels, The Tennessean reported.

Press Association

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