Man wanted in deadly Waffle House shooting in Tennessee had delusions about Taylor Swift, arrested at White House


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Monday, April 23, 2018
Waffle House shooting suspect still at large
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The suspect in the Waffle House shooting near Nashville was still at large Sunday.

A manhunt is underway in Tennessee for a central Illinois man who police say opened fire with an assault rifle at a Waffle House restaurant, killing four people.

Authorities identified the victims as Waffle House employee Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21, according to CNN.

Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, allegedly was wearing only a green jacket when he opened fire at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday on a Waffle House at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike in Antioch outside Nashville.

Reinking is listed as part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted List, and officers from at least four agencies, including the FBI, are participating in the search. A reward of $2,500 has been offered for information leading to his arrest.

Witnesses said that Reinking sat in his truck for several minutes, looking at the people in the restaurant.

Two people were fatally shot outside the restaurant Sunday as Reinking allegedly started firing his "assault-type rifle" as he got out of the truck, police said. One person was shot inside the restaurant and a fourth person died at a hospital. Six total people were shot, and others sustained injuries from flying glass and debris.

A 29-year-old male patron wrestled away the gunman's rifle, police said, and suffered minor injuries. The patron ran to the restaurant's restroom area and watched the shooting. When he saw Reinking looking at his rifle, he rushed him. He got the gun away from Reinking and threw it over the counter.

Police called the patron "a hero."

After the shooting, Reinking shed his jacket and was nude when he went to a nearby apartment complex, where police believe he lives. A witness told police that they saw him leaving wearing only black pants, and he is believed to be shirtless and barefoot.

The shooting is believed to be random, police said. Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said his department is prepared in case Reinking returns to Illinois.

"At this point the young man could be anywhere, and whether he might try to return home is a distinct possibility, so our officers are definitely on alert," Huston said.

The vehicle Reinking arrived in to the restaurant is registered to him, and his driver's license had a Morton, Illinois, address. Morton is located outside Peoria, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago.

Early Sunday, police dogs tracked Reinking to a nearby wooded area with power line towers, police said. Police do not believe him to be armed, but said he has a propensity for guns and therefore may be armed and dangerous.

Two of Reinking's four guns are missing, police said Sunday afternoon. The two missing guns include a hunting rifle and handgun.

Reinking's jacket was recovered with two magazines of ammunition. Police said he came ready to do excessive damage.

The Waffle House company issued a statement to ABC News:

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. Right now, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we will be there for them in this most difficult time. We are still gathering the details, and so we do not have much information to share. While this is an active investigation, we defer all questions about the incident o the Metro Police in Nashville. Our Senior Vice President, Area Vice President, Division Manager and other members of management are on site now to assist in any way they can. We also have a corporate team on the way from Atlanta. This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family, and we ask everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers."

Metro Nashville Public Schools announced on Facebook Sunday that they will not allow visitors until the Reinking is caught.

According to police reports released to ABC7 Chicago, Reinking had several interactions with police over the years, mostly for minor incidents.

In May 2016, police were called to a CVS parking lot, where Reinking was threatening to kill himself. Family present at the time said that Reinking had delusions since 2014 involving singer Taylor Swift, whom he believed was stalking and harassing him.

Reinking told officers that Swift had told him to meet her at a Morton Dairy Queen and had hacked his phone and Netflix account. Reinking also believed that his family and police were involved in the harassment, officials said.

At the time, Reinking's family informed police that he was in possession of firearms, but there is no record of any action being taken to remove the guns from Reinking's possession at the time.

In June 2017, Reinking exposed himself at a pool while wearing a pink woman's house coat, according to a police report. Earlier the same day, Reinking had gotten into a shouting match with a crane company employee, who said Reinking was wearing the house coat and holding an AR-15 rifle, the report said.

Reinking was then arrested in July 2017 for entering a restricted area near the White House, a Secret Service official said Sunday. He was asked to leave, but declined, wanting to set up a meeting with the president. He was arrested for unlawful entry.

After his White House arrest, the Tazewell County Sheriff's Department seized his weapons, later giving them back to his father, who told police that he gave them back to his son.

According to an August 2017 police report, Reinking told police that he believed his computer and phone had been tapped and that people were baiting him into breaking the law.

Reinking moved to Tennessee in the fall and worked in construction. He was fired three weeks ago before he was hired by another employer, who said he had last come to work on Monday and never returned.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 615-862-8600.

CNN Wire contributed to this report.