The manhunt for Waffle House shooting suspect Travis Reinking continued Monday morning as law enforcement agents are searching for the 29-year-old alleged shooter, who is still on the run and may be armed and dangerous.
Reinking allegedly stole a BMW from a dealership days before his attack at the Waffle House Sunday, and eluded police in an ensuing chase, Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron said at a news conference Monday. The car was ultimately found on the same day at Reinking’s apartment complex, he said.
A Nashville resident also found a laptop bag with Reinhold’s name on it in a field Sunday, Aaron said. He said the search mission would expand to the area around Interstate 24 and Old Hickory Blvd. where the bag was discovered, The Tennessean reported.
But Reinking’s whereabouts are still unknown and Aaron said there have no been confirmed sightings of the suspected shooter, though he warned that the suspect has “exhibited mental instability” and could still be armed.
“There have been no confirmed sightings of him, so we don’t know where he is,” Aaron said. “It is possible that he has left the area. We just don’t know.”
Metropolitan Nashville Chief Police Steve Anderson had said at a earlier news conference that Reinking is most likely on foot and is probably still close to the area, unless he was picked up by a car.
Anderson had also said that Reinking’s motive in the shooting remains unclear, but he may have “mental issues.”
Reinking has had numerous brushes with the law that may demonstrate his mental state. He was most notably arrested by the U.S. Secret Service in July of last year after showing up in a restricted area near the White House and saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump, police said Sunday,
Upon his Washington, D.C. arrest Reinking reportedly declared himself a “sovereign citizen,” which is a term the FBI says is used by anti-government extremists, according to USA Today.
After an investigation of the White House incident by police in Illinois and the FBI, authorities removed four guns from Reinking’s home and gave them to his father. Police say it appears his father gave those guns back, including the AR-15 assault rifle that Reinking allegedly used to kill four people and wound two others over the weekend.
Reinking’s previous encounters with police also involved guns and offer further evidence of a potentially mentally disturbed young man.
In 2016, he told authorities in Tazewell County, Illinois that pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone. Last June, an employee at Reinking’s father’s construction company filed a report stating that “Reinking came down from his apartment wearing a pink dress and holding a rifle,” according to CNN.
Another report from last August details another incident in which Reinking “wanted to file a report about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone and people ‘barking like dogs,’” the AP reported.
Reinking is still on the run after the Waffle House shooting, in which a heroic customer disarmed him when he stopped to reload his weapon.
Police say Reinking fled the scene naked, but returned home to put on a pair of pants before fleeing into some nearby woods.
Authorities believe the gunman may still be armed with one of his guns, as they recovered only three of his four known guns after the shooting.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has added Reinking to its Top 10 Most Wanted List.
Reinking allegedly shot six people, four fatally, when he opened fire in a Waffle House located at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville.
Restaurant patron, James Shaw Jr., 29, stepped in and disarmed the gunman.
“No doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and tossing it over the counter and prompting the man to leave,” police spokesman Don Aaron told the Associated Press.
The gunman was wearing only a green coat when he opened fire. During the struggle over the gun, Reinking left his coat and fled the scene naked, police said.
The investigation is still ongoing and the crime scene is being processed, Nashville police said. Murder warrants are being drafted against Reinking, the police said via Twitter.
Who is the gunman?
Travis Reinking, originally of Morton, Illinois, was first identified by his truck in the parking lot of the Waffle House. He is described as a white man with short hair.
Police tweeted that Reinking shed his clothes and is either naked or wearing pants but no shirt, and is still at large, and “was last seen in a wood line near Discovery at Mountain View Apartments on Mountain Springs Drive near the Waffle House.” Channel 5 also reported that “police dogs have been tracking him.”
Anyone with information about Reinking is urged to call the Nashville Police Department at (615) 862-8600.
Who are the victims?
A total of six people were shot. Three died at the scene and a fourth victim died at the hospital.
The victims were Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, a Waffle House employee, and restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21.
Two other people were wounded and are being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Who stopped the gunman inside Waffle House?
James Shaw, Jr., 29, is being hailed as a hero after tackling Reinking to the ground while he tried to reload his AR-15-style assault rifle. Shaw wrestled the gun away from Reinking and threw it over the counter out of the shooter’s reach.
“I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it,” Shaw told local media outlet The Tennessean.
Shaw had just gotten to the Waffle House with a group of friends after leaving a nearby fraternity party, according to The Tennessean. He recounted what happened during the shooting, saying he felt a bullet graze his arm as he dove for cover.
“I remember I was like ‘Dang, I’m basically in a barrel,’ ” Shaw Jr. told the newspaper. “There is no place for me to go. When he came in, I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill. I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.”
Describing his physical fight with the gunman to the paper he said he “grabbed the gun and kept it down. He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.”
A Channel 5 reporter tweeted that Shaw sustained severe burns from grabbing the hot gun. Shaw was released from the TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center for minor injuries around 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the Tennessean reported.
After pushing the gunman outside, Shaw told The Tennessean that he did not follow Reinking in case he had other guns, but he quickly flagged down other cars for help.
What was the motive for the shooting?
Police are still trying to determine why the gunman opened fire. At this time, they believe the shooting was random. They also do not know why the alleged suspect, Reinking, came to Nashville from his hometown in Morton, Illinois, 450 miles away. But according to The Tennessean, police believe he lives at the Mountain View Apartments near the Waffle House where the shooting took place.
What is the reaction to the shooting?
Waffle House, a 24/7 diner chain that is popular throughout the southern U.S., issued a statement after the shooting saying, “This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family. We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
Nasvhille’s Mayor David Briley also issued a statement, saying: “It’s a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. My heart goes out to the families and 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.”