A Waffle House in suburban Nashville was the scene of chaos and mayhem early Sunday morning when a seminude gunman opened fire and killed four people. Two others suffered gunshot wounds in the Antioch shooting that took place at around 3:25 a.m. while another two suffered minor injuries. Police are on the hunt for the suspect who was wearing only a green jacket that was stuffed with ammunition when he opened fire using an “assault-type rifle.” When he fled on foot the suspect had shed his coat and was naked, according to police.
The tragedy in the town located about 16 miles southeast of downtown Nashville could have been a lot worse if not for a patron that managed to wrestle the rifle away from the shooter. The 29-year-old Waffle House patron reportedly was trying to flee the scene when he saw the shooter struggle with the rifle. At that point he charged the shooter, wrestled the weapon away from him and threw it over the restaurant’s counter. “He is the hero here and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away,” Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department said. A witness said that the patron in question charged at the shooter when he was reloading his rifle. “If you see a nude guy walking around, call the police immediately,” Aaron said in an interview. “We believe he may be the suspect in this.”
Police immediately identified Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Ill. as the person of interest because the gunman arrived in a vehicle registered to him. Police later said that Reinking matched the descriptions of witnesses and is now seen as the main suspect in the case. Federal law enforcement agents are already familiar with Reinking “due to previous interactions,” Aaron said.
Witnesses said the suspect opened fire as soon as he got out of his car and didn’t say a word. “He did not say anything,” a witness told the Tennessean. “He pulled up, got out of his car and was all business.” Two of those who died were shot outside the restaurant, one died inside while the fourth person died at the hospital. Although the shooter was naked when he fled, he apparently “clothed himself with a pair of pants” later Sunday morning, Aaron said. A man believed to be the suspect was seen wearing black pants and no shirt later in the morning near the restaurant where the shooting took place.
“This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family. We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers,” the Waffle House said in a statement posted on Twitter.