Norwalk Reflector: Waffle House shooting suspect in custody after manhunt

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Waffle House shooting suspect in custody after manhunt

By Terence Cullen and Nicole Hensley • Updated Apr 23, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Suspected Waffle House gunman Travis Reinking was arrested Monday afternoon after an intense manhunt, Metro Nashville police confirmed.

Authorities took Reinking into custody at about 1 p.m. local time, the tweet added, hours after police began widening the search area for the 29-year-old Reinking.

Investigators are still unsure why he charged into the Antioch Waffle House, wearing nothing but a green jacket, where he killed four people at about 3:25 a.m. local time Sunday. Neighbors then saw him leaving his apartment complex in a black pair of pants headed for the woods.

Reinking also lifted a car from a BMW dealership last Tuesday, which cops later tracked down to his apartment complex, Aaron said.

He’d shown up to the dealership in nearby Brentwood, Tenn., asking about buying a car. But he never gave his ID, got his hands on a key fob and took off in the car, Aaron said.

Brentwood cops dropped the rush-hour car chase because the car was fitted with GPS, Aaron said, and knew they could find it later.

Reinking moved to the Nashville area last fall. He worked at a construction company until he was tossed about three weeks ago, but started at a new firm last Monday, Aaron said.

The company told police he didn’t show up after the first day, however, and no one knew where he was.

Police don’t know a motive for the brazen attack at the breakfast food eatery.

“We don’t know why he went into the Waffle House,” Aaron said.

Police said he killed Waffle House worker Taurean Sanderlin, 29, and Joe Perez, 20, after getting out of his gold Chevrolet Silverado. Reinking then peppered the Waffle House with bullets, went inside and fatally shot Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21, authorities said.

“Me, my husband and sons are broken right now with this loss,” Perez’s mother, Trisha Perez, said in a Facebook post. “Our lives are shattered.”

Dasilva was at the restaurant with girlfriend Shanita Waggoner, 21, who is in stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being wounded, a spokesman confirmed. Another wounded person, Sharita Henderson, is also in stable condition.

President Donald Trump is “in regular contact with state and local officials,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

“The President offers condolences to the victims and their families,” she added.

More people likely would have died if customer James Shaw Jr. hadn’t charged at Reinking when the suspected gunman stopped to reload, law enforcement and witnesses said.

“I just saw my opportunity and attacked,” Shaw said Monday morning on NBC News’ “Today.”

“I did learn that he did actually have other magazines in his gun, and he could’ve reloaded,” said Shaw, whose right elbow was grazed by a bullet during the melee. “I’m glad I acted.”

Sanders added Shaw “saved lives” when he grabbed the scalding rifle barrel and wrestled the gun away from Reinking.

“I also want to commend the actions of James Shaw Jr.,” she said.


Waffle House shooter had history of delusions, believed Taylor Swift was stalking him

Travis Reinking, the suspected Waffle House shooter, feared pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him in his Illinois hometown and hacking his phone and Netflix account, according to fits of delusions detailed in police reports.

Before moving to Nashville, authorities in Illinois documented at least five encounters with the alleged 29-year-old gunman starting in May 2016, when loved ones worried he would kill himself over the stalking claims and called police.

Those relatives said he had “been having these delusions” since 2014.

When confronted by cops in a parking lot near Peoria during the 2016 incident, Tazewell County Sheriff's Office deputies said Reinking was convinced the singer — who launched her country music career in Nashville, Tenn. — was following him. He believed she wanted to meet him at a nearby Dairy Queen.

He tried meeting Swift at the fast food joint but she yelled at him from across the street and bolted, according to his version of events. He gave chase "in an attempt to get her to stop harassing him," the police report read.

"Taylor climbed up the side of a building and Travis followed. However, when he reached the rooftop, Taylor was gone," according to the report.

He was taken to a local hospital for an evaluation but contended “it was against his will.”

Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston released five police reports for Reinking on Sunday, hours after he was named as a suspect in the fatal Waffle House shooting in Nashville, about a half-mile from the apartment complex where he lived.

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson did not provide a motive in the Sunday morning killing but acknowledged that Reinking may have had “mental issues.”

Huston said his deputies were aware of Reinking’s brush with law enforcement, primarily sparked by his apparent mental health problems.

“Obviously we are aware of him. We had dealings with him before,” Huston told reporters.

“I think anybody who reads the police reports here, would conclude there is certainly evidence of mental health issues involved,” the sheriff said.

The police papers note that Reinking owned several weapons and had a penchant for acting hostile toward police.

One of those weapons, an AR-15, was used in what authorities described as "an information report showing the state of mind of Travis Reinking" the following year. That same weapon was believed to have been used in the Waffle House shooting, according to officials.

An employee at a crane rental business in the same building where Reinking lived told police the suspect threatened him with a semi-automatic rifle during an argument.

“Is this what you f---ing want,” Reinking allegedly yelled at the worker.

He then stashed the gun in the trunk of his car and stormed off. He is believed to have broken into a nearby Tremont pool next during the June 2017 verbal rampage. Lifeguards said the scantily-clad trespasser was only wearing a pink women's housecoat and underwear when they ordered him to get out. He yelled at them and flashed his genitals, according to the report. Reinking was not arrested for either incident since employees at the Tremont Park District Pool did not wish to press charges.

Police then told Reinking’s father, Jeff, that he should lock up his gun arsenal “until Travis gets mental help.”

But that didn’t happen until August. Cops ordered the elder Reinking to confiscate his son’s weapons cache, which included an AR-15, a .22-caliber rifle and a Remington 710, when Illinois State Police revoked his firearms permit.

“We have no confirmation concerning how Travis Reinking obtained possession of the weapons subsequent to them being taken from him,” Huston said in a statement.

Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron later said Reinking’s father admitted to giving the guns back to his son before he moved to Tennessee in the fall.

The extent of Reinking’s mental health history was not entirely known Sunday night but police reports suggest the suspected shooter pegged his paranoia to when he started writing to Swift. It was not clear when that was.

Reps for Swift did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reinking told police he heard people barking like dogs outside his home and while shopping at a Walmart, he believed he was being watched, according to the August report. Additionally, he said “they” were tapping his computer and phone but Reinking was unable to explain who the culprits were.

“Travis stated he knows they are because he can hear himself through their speakers when he is in an online chat room. Travis said he believes approximately 20-30 people are hacking into his phone and computer,” the deputy wrote in the report.

He contended “people are baiting him into breaking the law.”

Huston said he was aware of Reinking’s White House arrest in July 2017, when he claimed to be a sovereign citizen and boasted to having “a right to inspect the grounds.”

He told a D.C. Metropolitan police officer he needed to speak with President Trump.

Secret Service agents arrested Reinking as he busted through a security barrier at the White House complex.

“Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have to,” he told agents, while balling his hand into a fist.


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