Suspected Waffle House gunman Travis Reinking was arrested Monday afternoon after hiding in the woods of suburban Nashville, more than a day after the partially nude suspect killed four people at the restaurant.
Undercover detectives with Metro Nashville’s narcotics unit found the 29-year-old Illinois native just after 1 p.m. local time in a wooded area behind the Antioch apartment complex where he lived since last fall.
Someone called the cops to say they saw a man who matched Reinking’s description sneaking through a construction site into the secluded area.
Reinking got on the ground as soon as one detective who saw him drew his weapon, squad leader Lt. Carlos Laura said at a news conference.
“As soon as the detectives saw him, there was really no communication,” said Laura, who added he wasn’t at the scene when Reinking was arrested.
Detectives found a Kimber semi-automatic handgun, .45-caliber ammunition, a holster and a flashlight inside the black backpack he was wearing at the time.
Reinking wore a red long sleeve T-shirt — with tears showing scratches on his right shoulder — and dirt-covered jeans when he was photographed in the back of a police cruiser.
The suspected killer asked for a lawyer and refused to give a statement when cops brought him to a local precinct, police spokesperson Don Aaron added.
Authorities are unsure how long Reinking was in that wooded area, located about a mile south of the Waffle House he sprayed with bullets 36 hours earlier.
On Sunday, a SWAT team combed through his apartment, talking through a loudspeaker in search of Reinking.
Roughly 160 Nashville cops searched through brutal rain, aided by state troopers, the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.
Nashville Mayor David Briley said the next step was to “help the families who lost their loved ones and who are still suffering in the hospital right now. We need to move on as a community and do what we can to curb this violence in the future.”
Survivors and loved ones are still trying to grapple with the tragedy, including the brother of Akilah Dasilva, who was fatally shot inside the Waffle House.
“I’m just still processing it in my head,” said Beatty Dasilva, who was at the eatery with Akilah when the gunfire broke out, on CNN after Reinking’s arrest.
“My mom is happy that he’s caught. It’s a sense of relief, but at the same time I’m still getting it all processed in my head.”
Akilah Dasilva’s girlfriend, Shanita Waggoner, 21, is in stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being wounded, a spokesperson confirmed.
Reinking got out of his gold Chevy Silverado and first shot Waffle House worker Taurean Sanderlin, 29, and Joe Perez, 20, outside the restaurant. Inside, he also killed 21-year-old DeEbony Groves and wounded Sharita Henderson, who remains in stable condition at Vanderbilt.
“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.”
Reinking will be charged with four counts of murder on Monday afternoon when he goes through central booking, Aaron said.
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. “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.
Reinking moved to Nashville last fall, and recently lost his construction job. He started a new one last Monday, but didn’t show up the following day, officials said.
Last Tuesday, he went to a BMW dealership in nearby Brentwood, Tenn., where he asked about buying a car. Reinking got hold of a key fob and lifted one of the vehicles when he refused to give a salesman his ID, Aaron said.
Brentwood cops briefly chased Reinking through rush hour traffic, but dropped their pursuit — knowing the car had a GPS tracker.
They later found the vehicle at Reinking’s complex.