Waffle House Shooting

by Meleena Mohammed

On Sunday April 22nd in Antioch, Tennessee, there was yet another shooting; this time it was at a Waffle House and 4 people were killed, and according to Nashville police two were seriously wounded. The shooter–Travis Reinking, 29–escaped, and only after a long and frightening 34-hour-manhunt did police find and apprehend him, taking his guns in the process. During this time, people were on high alert and schools everywhere in the country were on lock-down.

Before we get into it, let’s take time to commemorate the victims. This devastation took the lives of 4 individuals all under the age of 30 and of color: Joe R. Perez was 20, and the night before, he had just talked to his mother who is now devastated at losing her youngest child. DeEbony Groves was a senior in college, majoring in social work at Belmont University; the worst part is that she was set to graduate in only two weeks. There was also Waffle House employee–Tauran Saunderlin, who had been working for the company for 5 years; he was 29. Akilah Dasilva was 23; he was a musician and videographer, who performed under the alias Natrix Dream.  

The shooting was actually stopped by one of the patrons at Waffle House. This extremely brave person is 29-year-old: James Shaw Jr.  After he bolted from his seat and slid along the floor, he waited for the right moment when the shooter paused, and ambushed him. He dove into the action to take the Reinking’s gun and prevented the loss of more lives.

Shaw continues to say ‘anyone could have done what I did’ and that he doesn’t want to be called a hero after many call him just that. According to CNN, “Shaw was grazed by a bullet on his elbow while grappling with the gunman. He also burned his right hand grabbing the barrel of the weapon.” That Sunday, Shaw actually set up a GoFundMe page despite already being preached the ‘THe Waffle House Hero’ by locals and law enforcement. This Thursday, the 25th, it far surpassed its goal to raise 15,000 for the victims’ families, garnering more than $175,000.

The Chicago Tribune also makes another good point, that with this tragedy occurring, we have received no kind word or condolences from the president.

The suspect of the shooting is to appear in court on Wednesday, April 25th; he is facing a 2 million dollar bail, and his father is said to be facing charges as well. Apparently, Reinking has a criminal history, and long list of red flags…

  • Beginning in May of last year, it started with him reporting to police that the pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him… he is really obsessed with Taylor Swift…
  • In June, he went to a local pool, wearing a woman’s pink coat, and swam in his underwear, during this his genitals were exposed and he picked fights with the lifeguards.
  • Later that day, according to the Washington Post, Reinking “ 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.” This event led to three rifles and a hand gun being taken away from him, but later, his father whom he was living with, returned them to him, one of them being the AR-15 rifle he used on Sunday; this was all despite his son threatening to kill himself and his clear lack of mental health which the father even recognized.  
  • In July, he breached a White House barrier, he said he was there on important matters as a sovereign citizen–a type of anarchist really; this led to a toss up with federal authorities and was charged with a misdemeanor.
  • The Tuesday before the shooting, Reinking even had a run-in with police, he was thought to have stolen a BMW from a Nashville dealer, but according to CNN, “The pursuit was discontinued due to heavy traffic but was later tracked to Reinking’s apartment building.”

This man probably has some kind of mental illness which is evident, looking at his past

with the law and even personal accounts to prove so; the symptoms may even point to schizophrenia, since he seemingly suffered from delusions and paranoia.

Reinking was found after the manhunt near a wood-line behind an apartment complex where he last seen; it was said that he refused to give a statement and requested a lawyer when police took him in. The town seemed to have reacted well, given the situation “‘It’s a community effort, this would not have been accomplished without the cooperation of the community, and it was a citizen’s tip that led to this apprehension,’ Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said.” reported by CNN.

The Waffle House Shooting was truly a tragedy in which 4 lives were wrongly lost to gun violence. April 22nd will forever tarnish Tennessee’s and America’s history in this long run of devastating gun violence it only adds to the blood-soaked ground we all seem to tread in.