Joe Perez, a 20-year-old man who was a customer at the Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, was identified as one of the deceased victims in the mass shooting at the establishment, which police say was perpetrated by an Illinois man wielding an AR-15 who was wearing only a coat and nothing else.
Authorities released the names of all of those who died as Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville; Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, Goodlettsville; Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch; and DeEbony Groves, 21 of Gallatin.
The accused mass shooter, named by police as Travis Reinking, 29, formerly of Illinois, was still at large in the hours after the shooting on April 22, 2018. Authorities have not yet specified a motive, but the accused shooter had previous contacts with law enforcement, including an arrest in a restricted area near the White House.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Joe Perez Was Shot & Killed Outside the Restaurant
Perez, a patron at the Waffle House, was shot to death as he stood outside the restaurant, authorities said.
An eyewitness told NC5 a harrowing account, saying that “T, my friend, who was the cook, was outside smoking a cigarette.” Then, the witness said, a “lunatic in a pickup pulled up. He got out with an assault rifle, wearing only a jacket, nothing from the waist down. Really just craziness. He shot at a customer who was about to go in the door and he shot my friend who was trying to get away on the sidewalk. He fired a few shots through the window and then he went outside and opened fire outside,” the witness said.
“T” appears to refer to Taurean Sanderlin. It’s not yet clear whether Perez was the victim walking in the door.
Reinking burst into the Waffle House around 3:25 a.m. on April 22, 2018 and started spraying patrons and employees with an AR-15 rifle, police allege. The 24-hour restaurant is located in Antioch, Tennessee, which is near Nashville.
A total of six people were shot, according to Metro Nashville Police, who are leading the investigation with help from state and federal agencies. Three victims were pronounced dead at the scene. One victim then died at the hospital and two are currently hospitalized, according to authorities.
2. Perez Worked as a Sub Contractor & Was From Austin, Texas
On Facebook, Perez stated that he worked as a “sub contracter at Daryl Flood Relocation & Logistics,” went to Jack C. Hays High School, lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and was from Austin, Texas.
A friend from Texas wrote on Facebook, “RIP to the homie Joe Perez crazy how you’re gone bro I’m still in shock.”
Perez’s profile read, “Now I’m up all of a sudden | NEWERA.” On Facebook and Twitter, he went by the nickname “Jxthrowed.” His cover post showed him pretending to eat a large wad of money.
After shooting Perez and the other victims, and being disarmed by a heroic customer of his AR-15, Reinking is alleged to have fled the restaurant, and he hasn’t been seen since.
“Travis Jeffrey Reinking, the suspect in this morning’s deadly shooting at a Nashville-area Waffle House, has been added to our ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. He stands 6’4”, weighs 180 pounds, and should be considered armed and dangerous,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wrote on Twitter.
Reinking was nude during the shooting and wearing only a jacket, authorities said. It’s believed he lived near the Waffle House, although he had lived in Illinois until recently.
3. Joe Perez Wrote on Twitter That He Was ‘Pushing Myself to Get the Things I Deserve’
A pinned tweet from Joe Perez’s Twitter page, which dates to 2015, reads, “U weak minded, me & u ain’t tha same.” He also wrote, “Pushing myself to get the things I deserve.”
He also wrote: “I’m so ready to be off work ?” In May 2017, he wrote, “F*ck it sh*t happens right.” He also wrote, “Being hurt by someone you care for is one of the sh*ttiest feelings ever.”
In April 2017, Perez wrote, “Just got pulled over and the cop asks Andrea ‘no habla ingles’ lmao he assumed she was from Mexico I’m dead ?” He also wrote, “Too focused, too blessed.”
While Joe Perez was tweeting about the minutiae of his life, Travis Reinking, back in Illinois, was getting into repeated contact with law enforcement throughout the years of 2016 and 2017. There were warning signs aplenty.
In one of the most dramatic: Jeff Reinking, Travis Reinking’s father, is accused of giving guns back to his son after Travis Reinking was arrested near the White House, an incident during which Travis proclaimed to be a “sovereign citizen,” authorities revealed.
The allegation that Jeff Reinking returned weapons to his now 29-year-old son after an incident near the White House emerged in a news conference held several hours after the mass shooting.
“We have learned that Reinking was arrested by the United States Secret Service for being in a restricted area near the White House in July 2017,” Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said in the news conference. “He was subsequently released.”
When he was interviewed about the White House incident by authorities, Reinking allegedly proclaimed that he was a “sovereign citizen.”
A police report on the incident alleges that Reinking approached the northeast pedestrian entrance to the White House and “stated he must get into The White House and speak with POTUS.” He was told how to obtain a tour. He stated again that he “wanted to speak to the President and said he was a sovereign citizen and has a right to inspect the grounds.” He allegedly took his tie off and balled it into his fist and walked past the security barriers stating, “Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have to.”
According to the FBI, “Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States…As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.”
Reinking was later interviewed by local authorities in Illinois and the FBI. “His Illinois firearms authorization was revoked, in our understanding at the request of the FBI,” Aaron said, adding that four weapons were seized by local police in Illinois.
“Among the weapons seized was the AR-15 rifle used at the Waffle House today,” Aaron said in the news conference. “The police department has received information that the guns were returned by Tazewell County authorities to Reinking’s father who has now acknowledged giving them back to his son,” they alleged. “Presently two of the four guns that were given back to his son are unaccounted for.”
Two were recovered: A rifle was recovered at Reinking’s apartment, and the AR-15 was recovered at the Waffle House, said authorities.
It’s not clear whether authorities are alleging any law violation by Jeff Reinking for returning the guns. “Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said he believes under Illinois law, guns seized can be returned to someone who has a valid state authorization,” The Tennessean reported. “Anderson said he was not immediately aware of any Tennessee law Reinking would have violated by possessing guns in Nashville.”
The White House arrest case was dismissed in November 2017 after he completed a pre-trial diversion program.
4. Three Other People Died During the Rampage, Including a Local Musician
Biographical details are starting to be known about the victims. Akilah DaSilva went by the nickname “Natrix.”
“I just sat down with his friend. The last conversation they had together was about Dasilva helping her work on a song she had written,” wrote reporter Brandon Marshall on Twitter. Akilah was described to Marshall as a talented person who loved music; nicknamed Natrix, DaSilva enjoyed making music videos.
According to The Tennesseean, “Sanderlin worked for Waffle House for about five years.” The victims who suffered non-fatal injuries were named as Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville and Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch.
DaSilva’s cousin wrote on Facebook, “This can’t be for real. The moment I came on FB I find out my cousin Natrix DaSilva Got shot and died during the waffle house shooting. Breaks my heart. He was such a talented, smart humble young man. Please Pray for my family y’all. … Omg I know you’re broken right Now. I know you’re super close him and how much you love and support your kids and you are their biggest fan. Prayers are up for you and the rest of the family. I love you cuz. YOU’RE GONE TOO SOON CUZZO SLEEP IN PEACE.”
According to his Facebook profile, DaSilva was originally from Brooklyn, New York, and lived in Nashville. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help his family.
DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, was a star basketball player at Gallatin High School who was attending college Belmont University, according to The Tennessean. She was killed while eating inside the restaurant.
“She was a brilliant young lady, very, very intelligent and a very hard worker,” her high school basketball coach, Kim Kendrick, told The Tennessean.
Hero James Shaw Jr. is credited with stopped further carnage.
You can read more about Shaw here:
5. Reinking’s Parents Run a Crane Company in Illinois
Travis Reinking’s father, Jeff Reinking’s, Facebook page is pretty sparse, but it contains photos of crane equipment. He has 52 friends on Facebook, and no public posts.
The suspect’s mother is named Judy Reinking. Her social media presence is more robust. One photo on her Facebook page shows Judy and Jeff Reinking at Niagara Falls. “You two are so cute!!” a friend wrote on the comment thread.
The mother wrote on Facebook that she works at J&J Cranes, worked at Methodist Hospital, studied at Illinois Central College, went to Morton High school in Morton, Illinois, and lives and is from Morton, Illinois.
The website for J&J Cranes says it offers a “full line of crane services,” provides professional rental services, and has been serving central Illinois since 1997.
The about us section reads, “J&J Cranes, Inc. was established in 1997 in Tremont, Illinois. Since then, we have provided crane services for many types of jobs. From house trusses to rail cars, rooftops to grain elevators, industrial plant maintenance to wind generation parts… you name it, we most likely have done something like it before. There’s always the job that is new, and this gives us something to look forward to and opportunities for growth.”
You can read more about Reinking’s father and warning signs in the suspect’s life here: