Chicago (AFP) – Police in the US state of Tennessee swept the Nashville area Monday for a gunman who killed four people at a Waffle House restaurant in America’s country music capital.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said Travis Reinking — who reportedly had exhibited delusional behavior in the past and was arrested last year for trying to enter the White House grounds — was last seen on Sunday morning near a wooded area behind his apartment complex.
“There have been no credible sightings. The search will continue. All schools in the area have been cleared by officers,” the department said in a statement.
Metro Nashville Public Schools instituted a “lock-out” — meaning no guests or visitors were allowed on school grounds — in the southeastern suburb of Antioch, where the Waffle House restaurant is located, and nearby Cane Ridge.
The 29-year-old Reinking is accused of opening fire at the restaurant in the early morning hours of Sunday, while dressed only in a jacket.
He was stopped by James Shaw, 29, a restaurant patron who wrestled the gun away.
“Shaw’s actions undoubtedly saved many lives,” the police department said.
Reinking then shed his jacket, and is believed to have gone back to his nearby apartment home, put on a pair of pants and fled shirtless, according to police.
– Gunman’s past –
A picture emerged Monday of the accused gunman as someone who suffered from delusions and may have held anti-government views.
Reinking was arrested at the White House in July 2017, after entering a restricted area, according to police.
He had demanded to see Donald Trump and had declared himself a “sovereign citizen” — a designation used by anti-government extremists, according to The Tennessean newspaper.
Family members also had expressed concern in recent months over Reinking’s delusional behavior, including the belief that singer Taylor Swift was stalking him, according to The New York Times, which cited police reports.
After the White House incident, police rescinded Reinking’s firearms authorization in the Midwestern state of Illinois, where he lived at the time.
They seized his four weapons, including the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used in the Tennessee shooting, and handed them to his father.
Police said the father later returned the firearms to his son, one of which remained unaccounted for Monday.
The shooting at approximately 3:25 am (0825 GMT) Sunday claimed the lives of four people and wounded two others.
Authorities confirmed that Taurean Sanderlin, 29, Joe Perez, 20, and DeEbony Groves, 21, were killed at the restaurant.
The fourth victim, 23-year-old Akilah Dasilva, died at a hospital.