A man who was arrested at the White House last summer while trying to set up a meeting with President Donald Trump opened fire at a Waffle House in Tennessee early Sunday morning, killing four people and wounding two others before he was stopped by a heroic diner, authorities say. The shooter, identified by police as Travis Reinking, 29, was captured Monday afternoon, Metro Nashville Police said on Twitter. He was taken into custody in a wooded area near Old Hickory Boulevard and Hobson Pike at 1:07 p.m., police said.
Reinking was found in an area behind an elementary school, police said in a press conference soon after the capture. A citizen phoned in a tip and officers from a special Nashville narcotics squad captured Reinking in the woods. In a backpack, Reinking had a loaded semi-automatic gun, flashlight, ammunition, and a Colorado identification card. Reinking was transported to a Metro Nashville police station where he declined to make a statement and immediately asked for a lawyer, police said. Reinking will be evaluated at a local hospital and then taken to Metro police to be booked on four counts of murder.
His bail was originally set at $2 million, $500,000 for each murder count.
In a video-taped arraignment, Reinking can be head saying, ‘Hello, you can hear me?” After, he only gives his name and when asked if he has any questions about his charges or his bond he says ,”No, I don’t.” WKRN reported.
But that bail was revoked by a judge Tuesday morning. CNN reported that the district attorney general’s office for Metro Nashville and Davidson County was inundated with calls from residents who demanded Reinking not be given bail.
Columnist, author and activist Shaun King tweeted his outrage when it was reported Monday that Reinking could conceivably bond out of jail; his family owns a business and a home, it was pointed out.
The DA’s office said the judge’s decision was “a great move.”
“I can only guess or assume that he felt the pulse of the community just as we did. The last thing people wanted was for him to be released,” the DA’s spokesperson Steve Hayslip told CNN.
The call to police by a woman who told a dispatcher exactly where Reinking was can be heard here. Some have questioned how the dispatcher handled the call.
Reinking was located .7 miles from the Waffle House; he never left the area.
Police said Reinking began shooting patrons and employees with an AR-15 rifle about 3:25 a.m. Sunday at the 24-hour restaurant on Murfreesboro Pike in Antioch, 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.
The MNPD, Tennessee Highway Patrol, FBI, ATF and SWAT teams from numerous local agencies were involved in the search for Reinking, which was initially focused on the area near his apartment complex and the area surrounding the restaurant, but had since expanded. In a press conference shortly before noon Monday, police said the search would be extended to an area close to I-24 and Old Hickory Road near the Truck Stop of America where a laptop case was found containing a handwritten ID card with the name Travis Reinking but it’s unknown if the case was left there before or after the shooting.
Reinking will be charged with murder, according to authorities. He was been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s “Top 10 Most Wanted” list, which said he should be considered “armed and dangerous.” One weapon owned by him was found at the scene. A reward of up to $2,500 was being offered for his apprehension. Reinking had access to four weapons and initially police said one was left at the scene, one found in his apartment and they believed Reinking was likely armed with two guns, a hunting rifle and a handgun. But Sunday night a MNPD tweet indicated Reinking had one gun on him. “One of his guns, a pistol, remains unaccounted for.” So it’s unclear where the fourth gun is or was located.
Reinking was last seen near his ‘Discovery at Mountain View’ apartment complex in Antioch, police said Monday morning. His apartment is less than a mile from the Waffle House. The area is densely populated but includes patches of thick woodlands. Police advised residents in the area to lock their doors and remain cautious.
Reinking was arrested by the Secret Service in July 2017 after he entered a restricted area outside the White House. According to the Secret Service, Reinking made unlawful entry after going into a bike rack area that was past a line where unauthorized access is allowed, a spokesman for the agency said. Reinking refused to leave after being asked to and was then taken into custody and charged with unlawful entry. The case was dismissed in November 2017 after Reinking completed a first-time offender diversion program. The Secret Service said Reinking told agents he was at the White House to make an appointment with the president. The official statement from the Secret Service can be read here.
Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, who worked at the Waffle House, was fatally shot while on his break outside the restaurant. Joe Perez, a 20-year-old diner from Nashville, was also killed outside the restaurant. Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch, and DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, were both shot inside the restaurant. Groves died at the scene, while Dasilva was rushed to the hospital and was later pronounced dead there.
Here’s what you need to know about Travis Reinking and the shooting:
1. Reinking, Who Was Wearing Only a Coat When He Opened Fire & Later Fled in the Nude, Was Stopped by a Patron Who Grabbed His Rifle, Police & Witnesses Say
The suspect, identified by police as Travis Reinking, was wearing only a coat when he opened fire at the Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, early Sunday morning, The Tennessean reports. Reinking was armed with a rifle when he began shooting from the parking lot of the 3571 Murfreesboro Pike restaurant about 3:25 a.m., police and witnesses told the newspaper.
According to police, Reinking arrived at the restaurant at 3:19 a.m. in his pickup truck. He sat inside his truck for about four minutes, “just looking at people inside the restaurant,” Metro Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said at a press conference. He then “got out of his truck, armed with an AR-15 rifle and began shooting.” His first shots struck and killed two men, Taurean C. Sanderlin, a Waffle House employee, and Joe Perez, a customer, Aaron said.
Reinking then went into the restaurant and again “began shooting.” Four more people were shot inside the restaurant and two, Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Graves, were killed.
According to witnesses, a “hero” patron was able to take the gun away from Reinking and stop the shooting. He has been identified as James Shaw Jr. You can read more about him here. Shaw, 29, tackled the shooter and suffered a wound to his arm in the process.
“I don’t really know, when everyone said that (of being a hero), it feels selfish,” Shaw told The Tennessean. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”
Witness Chuck Cordero said Reinking was “naked except for a jacket with an assault rifle shot a gentleman that was standing at the door …turned and shot my buddy, too, who was trying to get away.” Cordero was outside of the restaurant, hid under his car and saw the suspect shoot into the windows and then enter the restaurant. Cordero could see a man wrestle the gun from Reinking.
Cordero told The Tennessean, “He did not say anything. He pulled up, got out of his car and was all business.” He said about Shaw, who intervened, “he really saved some people. I’m positive he did. Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant.”
Police said Shaw “saw an opportunity to intervene” after the shooting stopped and wrestled the rifle away from Reinking and then tossed it away to “end the gunfire.” Aaron, the police spokesman, said Shaw “saved many lives in his heroic action.”
After having his gun taken away from him, Reinking fled from the scene on foot, WSMV-TV reports. He shed his jacket at a nearby street corner. Police said they located the jacket and it contained ammunition. Two magazines for his AR-15 were found inside the gun.
“He clearly came armed with a lot of firepower intending to devastate the south Nashville area,” Aaron said.
Police located Reinking’s truck after arriving at the scene and found that he lived in a nearby apartment, which was searched.
A WKRN reporter tweeted that sources said Reinking “stole a car from a Brentwood dealership the day before the shooting. Car later recovered at his apt complex.”
The City of Brentwood issued a statement and posted a video of the pursuit.
“The Brentwood Police are investigating a vehicle theft from BMW of Nashville (1568 Mallory Lane) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 and the possible link between this theft and Travis Reinking, who is suspected in the Sunday April 22, 2018 shooting incident at the Waffle House in Antioch.
Two surviving victims, Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville and Sharita Henderson, 24. of Antioch, on Sunday were in critical condition are now both in stable condition at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to CNN.
About 7:15 a.m. local time Sunday, police ssaid on Twitter, “A man believed to be Travis Reinking was last seen in a wood line near Discovery at Mountain View Apts. on Mountain Springs Dr. near the Waffle House. The man was seen wearing black pants and no shirt.”
According to The Tennessean, Reinking is believed to live in that apartment complex. Investigators think he went back to his apartment and put on pants before heading into the wooded area.
Reinking, who is white, is 6’4″ and weighs 180 pounds, according to court records, was tracked by police K-9s, but the track was lost. “Police dressed in full SWAT gear stormed into an apartment at that complex with their guns drawn later Sunday morning, screaming for by standers to ‘get back,'” The Tennessean reports. Helicopters were also being used in the search.
Police believe he is still on foot and may be barefoot. Reports Monday just before noon showed law enforcement tracking Reinking. This video post is from shortly before 11 a.m.
Follow-up tweets show a heavy police presence in an area less than two miles from the suspect’s apartment.
2. Reinking, Who Told the Secret Service He Is a Sovereign Citizen, Had His Guns Taken Away From Him by Illinois Authorities After His Arrest, but His Father Gave Them Back to Him
Travis Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois, police said. He is known to both local police in Illinois and the federal authorities, including the Secret Service and the FBI. Reinking was arrested on July 7, 2017 after he was found in a restricted area near the White House. He was charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, on July 8, D.C. court records show. He was released from custody that same day.
According to the arrest report, obtained by USA Today, Reinking was stopped by the Secret Service at the North East pedestrian entrance about 3:30 p.m. He told them he “must get into” the White House to speak with the president. The officer explained to Reinking who to take a tour and told him to leave. Reinking again said he wanted to speak with the president and said he was a “sovereign citizen and has a right to inspect the grounds.”
The Secret Service said Reinking was again asked to leave and he he “began to take off his tie and balled it into a fist and began approaching (the Secret Service officer) and walked past the security barriers stating, ‘Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have too [sic].” He was then taken into custody.
According to the FBI, members of the sovereign citizen movement 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.”
After his arrest, his weapons were taken from him by Illinois authorities, because his firearm authorization was revoked following an interview with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, police said. The revocation was at the request of the FBI, who also interviewed Reinking. Four weapons were seized by the county sheriff’s office. The guns were turned over to Reinking’s father, Jeff Reinking, and at some point, Jeff Reinking gave them back to his son. It is not clear if the elder Reinking violated Illinois law by giving the guns to his son. The AR-15 used in Sunday’s shooting was one of the weapons that was seized by authorities. It was legally purchased in Illinois. Two of the four guns are unaccounted four. A rifle was recovered at Reinking’s Tennessee apartment and the AR-15 was left at the scene, but the other two guns were not found.
D.C. court records show that Reinking entered into a diversion program on July 26 and was ordered to complete community service, which he did in October. The case was dropped in November after Judge Frederick Weisberg determined Reinking had successfully completed the diversion program, records show.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew Espenshade, of the agency’s Memphis office, said the investigation into Reinking that began after the White House incident was closed in October 2017. “I feel confident that the FBI took the appropriate steps and did everything within our federal jurisdiction that we could at the time.”
According to the ATF, the AR-15 used in the Waffle House shooting was legally purchased in 2011 in Illinois. Travis Reinking was not legally allowed to possess the weapons in his home state of Illinois, but authorities said it is not clear if he was able to possess them legally in Tennessee. It is also not known if his father broke Illinois law by returning the guns to him.
The Tazewell Sheriff’s Office said deputies seized a 9mm handgun, a Bushmaster AR-15, a .22-caliber rifle and a Remington 710, the Peoria Journal Star reports. Sheriff Robert Huston told reporters that the guns were later given to Jeff Reinking, who had a valid Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, but he was supposed to ensure they didn’t go back into the possession of his son.
According to police reports released by the Tazewell Sheriff’s Office, Reinking said in 2017 that he previously took the three rifles and a handgun away from his son “awhile back” and “locked them up” while Travis was “having problems.” The elder Reinking told deputies he wanted to move out of state, so he gave the weapons back to him. Deputies told Jeff Reinking he “might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets the mental help which he stated he would.”
Reinking had several run-ins with police on traffic violations in Tazewell County, Illinois, between 2005 and 2013, but no other records of arrests or any other criminal record could be immediately found for him. He also lived in Tremont, Illinois. Police in Tennessee said he was not on their radar and had not been arrested in the Metro Nashville area prior to the shooting.
Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston didn’t rule out the possibility Reinking could try to return to Illinois. “People should be on alert. He’s armed and dangerous,” Huston told local media Sunday.
Before moving to Tennessee, Reinking lived in Salida, Colorado, records show. In February 2018, he was interviewed in a “man on the street” article by The Mountain Mail. He was asked what makes him happy and he replied, “True love. Just because it’s the best thing that can happen in life.” Reinking was working for a crane company in Salida while there.
Police said they believe Reinking moved to the Nashville area in Fall 2017 to continue working in the crane and construction industry. He lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment. Police spokesman Don Aaron said they believe he was fired from his job about three weeks ago, but recently applied for and received employment with another employer. That employer said Reinking worked on Monday and did not return on Tuesday. He had not been seen by that new employer since Monday.
Reinking previously worked for his parents’ crane rental company in Illinois.
3. Authorities Say They Believe Reinking, Who Once Told Police Taylor Swift Was Stalking Him & Had Hacked His Phone, Has Mental Health Issues
Police believe the shooting was random, but have not yet released a motive. They are asking for tips and information about him. Anyone who sees Reinking is asked to call 615-862-8600.
“We suspect some mental issues, but at this time there’s no notes, no verbal explanations, so we don’t have a motive at this time,” Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a press conference. He said the shooter didn’t say anything during the attack that would help indicate his motive. “He’s murdered four times with no apparent reason and no apparent motive. So we’re very concerned.”
Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said his agency “knew of” Travis Reinking and had interactions with him. Huston told reporters at a Sunday press conference, “I think that anyone who reads the police reports that we have here and that I have given you copies of would certain have evidence that there were mental issues involved,” according to the Peoria Journal Star.
Huston said during one incident, in 2016, Reinking was found in a CVS parking lot exhibiting delusional behavior. He told deputies he believed Taylor Swift, his favorite musician, had hacked his cell phone and was stalking him. His family told the sheriff’s office that Reinking had been having delusions for about two years. Deputies convinced Reinking to be evaluated at a local hospital. In August 2017, Reinking told police during another incident that he thought as many as 20 to 30 people were tapping into his cell phone because he could hear them through his speakers, according to the Journal Star.
During another incident, in June 2017, Reinking, who was living at an apartment on his family’s business property, got into an argument with an employee of the crane rental company. Reinking was wearing a “pink woman’s house coat and had an AR-15 rifle in his hand,” during the fight. He then put the rifle into the trunk of his car and drove to a local public pool, where police say he took off the house coat and began swimming in a pool in just his underwear.
“The male started yelling at the lifeguards and trying to get them to fight with him,” a deputy wrote in his report. “I was told the male had gotten out of the pool and was yelling at the lifeguards, yelling that he was a man. I was told that he then showed his genitals saying he was a man.”
Police said Reinking left his rifle in the trunk of his car while at the pool. No one at the pool wanted to press charges against Reinking, according to the report.
You can read more details about those incidents and others with police in Tazewell County below or here. The documents were released by the sheriff’s office:
Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement, “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.”
Briley added, “There’s clearly more to be said about these circumstances, but for now I ask Nashville to pray for and rally around these victims and join me in thanking the Metro Nashville Police Department as it works to find and apprehend the shooter.”
At a press conference, Briley added, “Tragedies like today shouldn’t happen. It’s been only seven months since we had another mass shooting here in Nashville and that is far too frequent. We need comprehensive gun reform to address mass shootings, domestic shootings, accidental shootings and homicides. If we can all just come together for this and for the greater good we can take these weapons of war off the streets of our country. I know that we all want to live in a safe environment that allows everyone to go to work or school and feel and be safe. We all want to live up to our greatest potential and it’s my responsibility as the mayor of Nashville to try to make that happen. … For a moment, let’s be honest about what happened. Last night, innocent Nashvillians were terrorized by a man with an AR-15. Let’s be honest, some people see these weapons as having a purpose of terrorizing other people. It’s happening too much. Enough is enough.”
Briley was referencing the September 2017 shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, about two miles away from the Waffle House, that left one dead and eight others wounded. The suspect in that case was arrested and is awaiting trial.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said in a statement, “Crissy and I are deeply saddened by the tragic incident in Antioch early this morning, and we mourn the lives taken in this senseless act of violence. I encourage everyone in the Antioch area to take safety precautions as Metro Police continue to search for the suspect.”
In a statement, Waffle House said, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family, and we ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
4. Reinking Shared a Conspiracy Theory Video on His Facebook Profile in 2017 & Wrote ‘the Illuminati Is Real’
Reinking shared a conspiracy theory video on his Facebook profile in 2017 along with the caption, “The Illuminati is real.” According to the BBC, “a smorgasbord of every other intrigue under the sun, the Illuminati are the supposed overlords controlling the world’s affairs, operating secretly as they seek to establish a New World Order.” You can see a screenshot of the post below:
The video was taken down by YouTube. Here’s another version of the same video, ‘ILLUMINATI COMPILATION CLIPS 100% REAL.’:
Conspiracy theories are often a part of the sovereign citizen movement, which Reinking claimed to be a part of during his arrest at the White House. According to JJ MacNab, who writes about anti-government extremism for Forbes:
Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by buying into a scam or conspiracy theory that not only promised them a quick fix to their problems, but wrapped such solutions in a heavy layer of revolutionary rhetoric. Once a sovereign feels the flush of excitement and self-importance that comes from acting as the David to the U.S. government’s Goliath, they know, with all of their hearts and souls, that their research is correct, that their cause is just, and that anyone who disagrees with them is a criminal who deserves to be punished.
Reinking’s Facebook page was taken down for about two hours, but is public again. You can see a screenshot of his profile here:
Hundreds of people have flooded his page with messages, with some condemning him for the shooting and others encouraging him to turn himself in. It is not clear if Reinking deleted the Facebook page or if it was taken down by the social media company at the request of law enforcement. His last public post was in 2017 and did not contain many public personal details about his life or his views.
Reinking also has a YouTube page with a live stream set up, but he has not streamed since May 2017. Archived videos of his previous streams are not available.
A Tweet by columnist Shaun King Monday included a message from a woman who said she encountered Reinking while shopping at the Publix Super Market at Mt. View Marketplace on Murfeesboro Turnpike across from the Waffle House last Wednesday April 18. The woman, who is African-American, was shopping with her 9-year-old daughter when she said Reinking entered the store and began hurling racial epithets. The woman was frightened for her and her daughter and left the store but said no store employee intervened while Renking was shouting racist verbal assaults.
Heavy contacted the Publix in question but the store manager on duty deferred to Publix spokesperson Brenda Reid. A few hours after Heavy reached out with questions and for comment on the incident, Reid, Publix Media and Community Relations Manager, emailed the following statement: “Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding the situation at this location. We are cooperating with authorities as they investigate this matter, as the well-being and safety of our customers and associates is always a priority.”
5. Investigators Went to His Parents’ House in Illinois & Interviewed Them About the Shooting
Investigators have been seen at Reinking’s family’s home in Morton, Illinois, and have spoken to his parents about the shooting. Roland McDuff, an Illinois neighbor who knows the family well, told the Peoria Journal Star that Reinking came from a “good Christian home,” but said he hadn’t seen him at his parents’ house in several years.
“That’s a solid family,” McDuff told the newspaper. “They are good people. This just has to be devastating for them.”
According to social media profiles, Reinking’s parents own a crane rental service in Illinois. He has two sisters and a brother who was adopted by his parents in 2011. His family could not immediately be reached for comment. Reinking appears infrequently in his family member’s Facebook and Instagram photos. He did appear in a family photo in 2012 and a photo at his sister’s college graduation in 2016. McDuff told the Journal Star that at one point Reinking worked for his parents’ company as a mechanic. He was also involved in dirt biking racing while he lived in Illinois, a motocross website shows.
His mother, Judy Reinking, is a Morton native who previously worked at a local hospital and currently works with her husband and Travis’ father, Jeff Reinking, at their construction equipment company, J&J Cranes. The company was founded in 1997, according to its website.
Judy Reinking often writes about her daughters on her Facebook page, but has not mentioned her son in several years. In February 2011, she wrote, “Happy Birthday Travis!!! I love you!!! : )” In March of that year, she wrote that she was “so blessed” and “so thankful,” and then said, “Travis,
You are one of the reasons I am so blessed and thankful!!!! : ) Love you!”
In 2015, she shared a meme about school shootings:
Judy Reinking’s sister, Travis’ aunt, wrote in a comment on that post, “Any shooting was sort of ‘news’ now its just common place wherever..you go school, mall, college, church, PLANES etc. or even considered ‘bad’ by some……do not kill isn’t followed ..weird how I sit in a restaurant and wonder what to do if…”
Few details about Travis Reinking’s life have been made public or uncovered so far. His mother posted about being part of the local homeschool community, but it is not clear if he was homeschooled. She also posts often about her church and Christian faith, but his religion and whether he grew up in a church community is not clear.