NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The gunman suspected of killing four people in a late-night shooting at a Waffle House restaurant was arrested near his apartment Monday after hiding from police for more than a day, authorities said.
Police and federal agents had mounted a massive manhunt in Nashville for 29-year-old Travis Reinking after the Sunday morning attack, in which a gunman clad only in a jacket opened fire with an assault rifle on a diverse crowd at the restaurant before a customer disarmed him.
Reinking was formally charged late Monday with four counts of criminal homicide and held on a $2 million bond, court records show.
Construction workers told officers earlier Monday that a person matching Reinking’s description walked into the woods near a construction site, Metro Nashville Police Department Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters. A detective spotted Reinking, who lay down on the ground to be handcuffed when confronted, Lara said
Reinking carried a black backpack with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition, Lara said. Detectives cut the backpack off him while he was cuffed.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said Reinking requested a lawyer and was taken to a hospital before being booked into custody.
Police said Reinking opened fire in the restaurant parking lot before storming the restaurant, which had about 20 people inside. Four people — three of them black and one Hispanic — were killed and four others injured before a customer wrestled the weapon away and Reinking, who is white, ran out, police said.
Police said Reinking stole a BMW days before the attack. The car was quickly recovered, but authorities did not immediately link the theft to Reinking.
Meanwhile, authorities in Illinois shared past reports suggesting multiple red flags about the young man with paranoid delusions.
Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he entered a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed, but at the FBI’s request, Illinois police revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns from him, authorities said.
The AR-15 used in the shootings was among those seized.
Under federal law, a gun owner’s weapons can be seized if that person is convicted of a felony or involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. Illinois is one of the few states with a mechanism to allow firearms to be seized if someone’s behavior constitutes a “clear and present danger” but does not necessarily rise to the level of a felony conviction or an involuntary commitment.
Police reports describe Reinking as unstable but not violent. He was well known by local law enforcement, and his troubles were not a mystery to his relatives, who told authorities that he had been having delusions since 2014.
“It seems like they were proactive and effective at suspending this dangerous person’s access to guns in the first place, particularly since that’s not something they could’ve done in most states,” said Ari Freilich, a staff attorney at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But they “did not foresee the father being so irresponsible and dangerous in returning the guns to this person.”
States vary in what they do with firearms that are seized. Some states give the option of selling or transferring the guns to a licensed dealer or law enforcement. Others allow the person to give them to a friend, relative or some other third party. Experts caution about the danger of allowing relatives or friends to take possession of the firearms.
“Family dynamics are unusual. And here’s a situation where the family knew of his danger and still gave him a gun,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law and gun industry expert.
The father could face charges for returning the guns. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special Agent Marcus Watson said Monday that his action is “potentially a violation of federal law.”
Reinking’s father “has now acknowledged giving them back” to his son, Aaron said.
Phone calls to a number listed for the father, Jeffrey Reinking, went unanswered.
It is not clear why Reinking moved recently from Morton, Illinois, and if it had anything to do with being near Swift, who has a home in Nashville. Police say he worked in construction for a while.
Police say Reinking drove into the Waffle House parking lot in his gold Chevy Silverado pickup early Sunday and sat there for about four minutes before opening fire.
The victims fatally shot in the parking lot have been identified as Taurean Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe Perez, 20, of Nashville. Sanderlin was an employee at the restaurant.
One of the fatally wounded inside was DeEbony Groves, a 21-year-old student at Nashville’s Belmont University. She was remembered as an exceptional student who made the dean’s list and a tenacious basketball player.
Akilah Dasilva was also killed inside the restaurant. The 23-year-old from Antioch was a rap artist and music video producer, The Tennessean reported.
He was at the Waffle House with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Tia Waggoner, the newspaper said. Waggoner was wounded and underwent surgery to try to save her leg, Dasilva’s family said. Police say Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, was wounded and being treated as well.
Also wounded was James Shaw Jr., a 29-year-old restaurant patron who burned his hand grabbing the hot muzzle of the assault weapon as he wrestled the gun away. A Nashville native who works as a wireless technician for AT&T, Shaw said he was no hero — despite being hailed as one by Nashville Mayor David Briley and many others.
Associated Press contributed to this story.