A gunman who killed four people Sunday at a Waffle House near Nashville was arrested last summer after he crossed a security barrier at the White House, police said.
The suspect, Travis Reinking, 29 years old, of Morton, Ill., opened fire around 3:25 a.m. local time at the restaurant in Antioch, Tenn., a community in the Nashville metro area, killing three customers and one employee and wounding four others, authorities said. He was armed with an AR-15 assault style rifle.
As of Sunday afternoon, police still had not found Mr. Reinking, who they believe had moved to the Nashville area last fall. SWAT teams with police dogs had searched his apartment close to the Waffle House in Antioch and the dogs briefly picked up his scent, said Don Aaron, a spokesman with the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department.
Mr. Reinking, whom police describe as a white male with short hair, wore only a green jacket during the shooting and later shed the jacket, which carried additional AR-15 magazines, police said. He returned to his nearby apartment and put on a black pair of pants, but was believed to be barefoot and shirtless. Police have drafted murder charges against him.
Another Waffle House customer, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., wrestled over the firearm with Mr. Reinking. When the gunman was reloading, Mr. Shaw grabbed the gun from him and threw it over the counter.
“He clearly came armed,” and was “intending to create devastation across the South Nashville area,” said Mr. Aaron, the police spokesman. Police said that a man believed to be Mr. Reinking was last seen in a wooded area near an apartment complex not far from the Waffle House.
Federal and local law-enforcement agents said that Mr. Reinking was arrested near the White House grounds on July 7, 2017, after entering a restricted area in hopes of getting an appointment with the president. After he refused to leave, he was arrested, a Secret Service official said.
He was deemed by law enforcement in Illinois last year as unfit to carry firearms, which were then surrendered to his father. At some point, police said, his father returned his firearms to him.
Mr. Reinking's parents couldn't be reached for comment. Of the four fatalities, three died at the scene and one at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. All the fatalities were in their 20s, including three patrons and one employee of the Waffle House.
Two wounded victims were still undergoing treatment at the hospital, police said. Witnesses and police said Mr. Reinking arrived at the Waffle House restaurant in a pickup truck, and started firing at three people who were standing outside. He then went inside the restaurant and more shots were fired.
Nashville Mayor David Briley said it was a “tragic day” for the city. “If we can all just come together, for this and the greater good, we can take these weapons of war off the streets of our country,” he said. Walt Ehmer, CEO of Waffle House, which operates more than 2,000 locations in 25 states, said it was a “very sad day for the Waffle House family.”
“All of our attention right now is focused on the victims and their families,” he said. “We are here to support them in any way we possibly can.”
|Customer Acted To Disarm Shooter|
James Shaw was hiding behind a swinging door in a Nashville, Tenn., area Waffle House early Sunday morning when he had to make a choice. A gunman, who would eventually kill four people, fired though the door, grazing Mr. Shaw's arm.