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Tennessee Waffle House hero speaks, shooter could still be armed

James Shaw, the hero patron who helped prevent further bloodshed by stopping a gunman who opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House. PHOTO: FOX 17 News
James Shaw, the hero patron who helped prevent further bloodshed by stopping a gunman who opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House. PHOTO: FOX 17 News
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Metro Police, ATF, FBI, and Nashville Mayor David Briley issued an update Sunday on the manhunt for a shooter who killed four and injured three at a Nashville Waffle House.

Metro Police say the suspect, Travis Reinking, was armed with an AR-15 rifle when he drove up to the Antioch Waffle House. Reinking stopped and watched for approximately four minutes before opening fire. After killing four people, patron James Shaw was able to wrestle the gun from Reinking, causing him to flee.

Reinking is still on the loose and could be armed according to police.

Metro Police will be conducting a house-to-house search in the area. Police say he is believed to be barefoot and wearing black pants. Unless he was able to get a ride, he is believed to still be in the area.

Reinking was previously arrested by the Secret Service in July 2017 for being in a restricted area near the White House. His Illinois firearms authorization was revoked by the state due to that arrest. Among those were the AR-15 used in Sunday's shooting. Four weapons Reinking owned were handed over to his father, who admitted to later returning them to his son.

Local police in Illinois were originally contacted and the FBI also launched an investigation into Reinking following his arrest with the Secret Service. The FBI closed their case in October 2017 according to police. Reinking was officially charged with unlawful entry near the White House complex. The FBI says his reasoning for the breach was to "set up a meeting" with the president.

Metro Nashville Police recovered another rifle during the search of Reinking's apartment, but he could be in possession of the other two weapons.

Mayor David Briley called for comprehensive gun reform, citing just 7 months since the last mass shooting. Briley said "Let's be honest, some people see these weapons as being a tool to terrorize other people. Enough is enough."

James Shaw then took to the lectern and recounted his experience during the shooting. Shaw says he and a friend actually went to a different Waffle House first, but due to the long wait decided to go to the Murfreesboro Road location.

Shaw says he actually noticed Reinking in the truck when entering the location. The two sat at the high chair table-tops. Shortly after, shots began to ring out.

Shaw says after a few shots, he jumped and slid towards the door. As Reinking entered through the door, Shaw decided "if it's gonna come down to it, he's gonna work to kill me." He added, "If I didn't put my life at risk, then I'm probably not here."

Shaw says he managed to get one hand on the gun grabbing it and throwing it over the counter. Shaw then followed after Reinking, pushing him outside.

Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson says "we suspect some mental issues," but at this time motive is unclear. There were no notes left behind.

Anderson says since moving to Nashville, Reinking had not been on the police department's radar. Anderson also echoed Mayor Briley's call for reform, saying it is "an issue."

Anderson added, "you balance the right of people to have their privacy but on the other hand you have mental health issues."

Reinking has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's (TBI) Top 10 Most Wanted List. A $2,500 reward for information leading to his capture has been offered.

Police identified the dead and injured as follows:


Taurean Sanderlin (29), Goodlettsville (Waffle House worker) standing outside the restaurant

Joe Perez (20), Nashville (customer) standing outside the restaurant

21-year-old Deebony Groves from Gallatin (customer)

Akila Dasilva (23), Antioch (customer) wounded in restaurant, died at hospital

INJURED(critical condition)

Shanita Wagner (21), of Nashville

Sharita Henderson (21), of Antioch

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Anyone seeing Travis Reinking or knowing his whereabouts is urged to immediately contact the Emergency Communications Center at 615-862-8600, Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463, or their local law enforcement agency.

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