Fentress County couple helped police find Tennessee Waffle House shooting suspect

(Fox 17 News)

FENTRESS COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) - The husband and wife who helped Metro Nashville Police find the Waffle House murder suspect said they're thankful he is in custody.

Police said 29-year-old Travis Reinking opened fire on an Antioch Waffle House on Sunday, killing four young people and injuring three others. A massive manhunt had been underway ever since, prompting lockouts and shelters at schools.

Lydia and Brian French live in Fentress County with their children. The Frenchs drive more than two hours to Antioch each day to work on a Horst Brothers construction site where they're building a subdivision. Lydia French said going to work on Monday felt different.

"I was nauseated, literally sick to my stomach," Lydia French said.

Lydia French said she started the work day uneasy knowing the killings happened down the road with a manhunt still underway.

"It scared me because as I was at work this morning, because we saw him, there's kids going to the bus stop," Lydia said.

Before 1 p.m. Monday, Lydia said her husband Brian French and two other workers saw Reinking walking through the construction site. They said he went into the woods behind Discovery at Mountain View apartments where Reinking lived.

"When he saw us, he just looked like he was in a daze," Brian French said.

"I walked over and I said 'do I need to get my phone?' and he said 'absolutely, call 911,'" Lydia said. "And I got my phone and called. As I was walking over and I actually saw him [Reinking], I thought, 'oh this is real.'"

The couple said they were about 50 to 100 yards from the murder suspect.

"He was walking though the job through the mud," Lydia French said. "He looked up at us a couple times and looked back towards the elementary school he was heading toward."

Metro Nashville Police said within 10 minutes of Lydia French's 911 call, detectives found Reinking in the woods with a handgun in his backpack.

"I'm just glad that he's caught and can't hurt anybody," Brian French said.

Thankful to be in the right place at the right time, the husband and wife are still heartbroken at the loss of so many innocent lives.

"As a parent I couldn't imagine," Lydia French said. "I could not imagine what their families are going through."

Police said Reinking shot Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe R. Perez, 20, outside the restaurant. Both Sanderlin and Perez died from the shooting. Once inside, he continued shooting and killed De'Ebony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, and Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch, who later died at the hospital.

Reinking refused to give a statement to detectives at the time of his arrest. Officers said there is still no clear motive for the shooting.

He was charged with four counts of murder with a $2 million bond. He is set to appear in court on Wednesday morning.


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