Waffle house shooting suspect travis reinking arrested after manhunt, nashville police say – the washington post

Authorities discovered Travis Reinking, 29, hiding in the woods behind a construction site about a mile from the restaurant where the shooting occurred in the community of Antioch, southeast of downtown Nashville. Police said Reinking immediately lay on the ground and surrendered when an officer approached him with his gun drawn.

Reinking requested a lawyer and refused to answer questions or make a statement, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. He did not explain how Reinking eluded officers, police dogs and search helicopters, and he would not say what drove the suspect to allegedly open fire on apparent strangers early Sunday morning.

Reinking had accumulated a long list of red flags in recent years; police said he showed signs of mental instability, had extensive run-ins with authorities, and had his firearms license revoked and his guns taken away by authorities last year. He allegedly carried out the mass shooting with one of the guns police had removed.

Among the victims is 29-year-old Taurean C. Sanderlin of Goodlettsville, Tenn., a restaurant employee who was fatally shot while standing outside. The others killed were customers: Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville; Deebony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, Tenn.; and Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch.

Two others — Shanita Waggoner, 21, of Nashville, and Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch — remained hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in stable condition on Monday. After the shooting, police said, Reinking was spotted fleeing shirtless into a wooded area behind his apartment.

Just an hour before arresting Reinking, police acknowledged having “no confirmed sightings” of the suspect. Even as authorities expanded their search, with 160 officers scouring surrounding neighborhoods, they said they weren’t sure if he remained in the area.

Late Sunday, a resident of a nearby county told police he had found an empty laptop bag containing a handwritten ID card with Reinking’s name, Aaron said, suggesting that the 29-year-old was in that area the same night the shooting occurred. It remains unclear if the bag was dropped before or after the gunfire, police said.

Reinking’s arrest provided few clues about his activities since the shooting. He was wearing a maroon shirt and had a backpack when taken into custody. Inside the backpack, police said, was a loaded handgun, .45-caliber ammunition, a flashlight and a holster.

Beginning in May 2016, Reinking had a number of increasingly fraught encounters with authorities. That month, an emergency response officer found Reinking in a CVS parking lot in Morton, Ill. Reinking told police that pop star Taylor Swift was stalking and harassing him, according to police records. Reinking believed that Swift had hacked into his Netflix account and that his family was involved in the harassment. He told police a bizarre story about a Dairy Queen meetup with Swift that ended with him searching for the singer on the restaurant’s roof.

That same day, records show that Reinking — who was living in a shop above the offices of his father’s construction business in Tremont, Ill. — walked down to the offices wearing a pink dress, holding a rifle and shouting expletives at employees, before throwing the rifle in his car and speeding away.

An officer called his father, Jeffrey Reinking, who was out of state at the time, according to reports from the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office. The father told police that he had taken three rifles and a handgun away from Travis because his son was having problems. But he eventually returned the guns to his son.

On July 7, Reinking told authorities outside the White House that he had to get in to speak with the president. He said that “he was a sovereign citizen and has a right to inspect the grounds,” according to a D.C. police report. Sovereign citizens are viewed by the FBI as anti-government extremists who believe they are not subject to governmental laws, and law enforcement officials have described them as a major concern.

He was ordered to perform 32 hours of community service at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Morton, Ill., and to stay away from the White House for four months. He mowed grass, ran a forklift to move pallets of food, and packaged food for distribution to local food banks as well as hygiene packets for hurricane relief, according to court records.

After an investigation by the FBI office in Springfield, Ill., the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office said Monday, it was asked by the Illinois State Police to take away Reinking’s firearm owners identification (FOID) card, which he needed to legally possess guns or ammunition in Illinois.

Reinking signed his four guns over to his father on Aug. 24, 2017, according to state records. Matthew E. Espenshade, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis division, said Monday that “every federal resource was brought to bear” in Reinking’s case after his arrest at the White House and the FBI assessment, pointing specifically to the attempts to keep him from possessing firearms.

“We were able to effectively neutralize what we felt was the threat at the time by ensuring that he did not have the ability to purchase or own weapons and that those weapons were taken,” Espenshade said. “He was not able to possess or own those weapons.”

Illinois State Police said they could not provide details about when Reinking obtained the FOID card or whether any red flags arose during his application. It was not immediately clear whether he had been diagnosed with any mental illness. Illinois law bars someone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or has been a patient at a mental institution from obtaining a firearm license.

In Sutherland Springs, Tex., a gunman who killed more than two dozen churchgoers last year was able to buy firearms because his domestic violence conviction had not been entered into a national database that would have flagged it during his background check.

Last fall, Reinking moved to the Nashville area and worked in the construction industry, authorities said. He was fired from a job about three weeks ago, police said, and was recently hired by another employer but had not been to work since April 16.

A few days before the Waffle House shooting, Reinking nearly had another run-in with police. On Tuesday, authorities say he stole a BMW from a dealership in suburban Nashville. Police later tracked the car to Reinking’s apartment complex but did not know who the thief was. After the shooting, a key fob for the BMW was found in Reinking’s apartment, officials said.