Suspect arrested in deadly Tennessee Waffle House shooting

After a massive manhunt, police in Nashville have arrested Travis Reinking, suspected of killing four people at a Waffle House in the early hours of Sunday.

4 people killed, 4 others injured before quick-thinking customer wrestled rifle away from shooter

Travis Reinking, the suspect in a Waffle House shooting in Nashville, is arrested by Metro Nashville Police in a wooded area of Antioch, Tenn., on Monday. (Nashville Police Department/Reuters)

The suspect in an attack that killed four people at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee was arrested Monday not far from his apartment, police said.

Authorities had mounted a massive manhunt for 29-year-old Travis Reinking, after the Sunday morning attacks, in which a gunman clad only in a jacket used an AR-15 rifle to kill four and injure others.

Metropolitan Nashville Police announced Monday on Twitter that he was taken into custody not far from his apartment. Photos posted by police in Nashville showed Reinking clothed and in a police car.

Reinking, described as a white man with brown hair, opened fire with an AR-15 in the Waffle House parking lot and then stormed the restaurant shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, police say.

Four people were killed and four others were injured before a quick-thinking customer wrestled the assault weapon away, preventing more bloodshed. Reinking then disappeared, police said.

Police say about 20 people were in the Waffle House at the time of the shootings. They included people of different races and ethnicities, but the four people killed were minorities — three black and one Hispanic.

James Shaw Jr., right, gets a hug from Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer, who thanked him for wrestling the AR-15 from a gunman who shot and killed four people Sunday at the Nashville eatery. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean via AP)

It's not clear why Reinking opened fire on restaurant patrons, though he may have "mental issues," Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier. He was considered armed and dangerous, because he was known to have owned a handgun authorities have not recovered.

Backpack contained gun

Metropolitan Nashville police Lt. Carlos Lara said construction workers told officers on Monday that a person matching Reinking's description walked into the woods near a construction site, about three kilometres from the scene of the shootings.

As soon as a detective saw Reinking and ordered him to get on the ground,  the suspect co-operated and was handcuffed. "He did not try to run," Lara told reporters in a news conference near the Waffle House.

Reinking carried a black backpack with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-calibre ammunition, Lara said. Detectives cut the backpack off him.

More than 100 Nashville police officers had been going door-to-door and searching wooded areas, joined by dozens of agents with the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Police said Reinking had stolen a BMW days before the attack. The car was quickly recovered, but authorities did not immediately link it to Reinking.

Encounters with law enforcement

Meanwhile, authorities in Illinois shared past reports suggesting multiple red flags about a disturbed young man with paranoid delusions.

In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell County, Ill., that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved, according to a report released Sunday.

Nashville Metro Police officers knock on doors at an apartment complex where it is believed the suspect had been living. (Shelley Mays/The Tennessean via AP)

Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the sheriff's report said.

Another sheriff's report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Ill., last June, and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman's coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.

Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he crossed into a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed at the time.

Guns seized last year

Afterwards, Illinois authorities, at the FBI's request, revoked Reinking's licence to carry concealed weapons and seized four guns from him, but his father broke a promise to police and gave the suspect access to guns, authorities said.

The AR-15 used in the shootings was among the firearms seized.

In August, Reinking told police he wanted to file a report about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone and people "barking like dogs" outside his residence, according to a report.

Menus sit on tables next to windows shot out at the Waffle House early Sunday morning. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

"There's certainly evidence that there's some sort of mental health issues involved," Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said. But he said deputies returned the guns to Reinking's father on the promise that he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis."

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.

'I just wanted to live,' said James Shaw Jr. on why he disarmed the gunman at the Nashville Waffle House on Sunday 0:53

It is not clear why Reinking moved recently from Morton, Ill., and if it had anything to do with being near Swift, who has a home in Nashville. Police said he worked in construction for a while.

Police said 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 outside the restaurant.

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.

This photo provided by the Metro Nashville Police Department shows the rifle used in the deadly shooting. (Metro Nashville Police Department/Associated Press)

Perez's mother posted a picture of her son on Facebook and asked for prayers, saying it was the hardest day of her life. "Me, my husband and sons are broken right now with this loss," Trisha Perez said in the post. "Our lives are shattered."

Reinking then entered the restaurant and opened fire, police said.

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.

"She was a brilliant young lady, very, very intelligent and a very hard worker," Gallatin High School basketball coach Kim Kendrick told The Tennessean.

'Music is my life'

Akilah Dasilva was also killed inside the restaurant. The 23-year-old from Antioch was a rap artist and music video producer who had such skills behind the camera that he was a favourite among many of Music City's independent musicians and recording labels, The Tennessean reported.

"Music is my life and I will never stop until I achieve my dreams," Dasilva said on his Twitter account.

Dasilva's mother told CBS News that her son was a student at Middle Tennessee State University and aspired to be a music engineer.

He was at the restaurant with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Tia Waggoner, the paper reported. Waggoner was wounded and is being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dasilva's family said she underwent surgery and doctors were trying to save her leg.

Police said Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, was wounded and is being treated at VUMC.

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.

Shaw said he pounced on the suspect out of self-preservation, after making up his mind that "he was going to have to work to kill me."

With files from Reuters