Tennessee Waffle House shooter found guilty on 4 counts of murder

Date:


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A man who shot and killed four people at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018 was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder Friday by a jury that rejected his insanity defense.

Travis Reinking, 33, did not dispute the details of the shooting, which was caught on surveillance video and witnessed by numerous people.

Naked save for a green jacket, Reinking opened fire inside the restaurant just after 3:20 a.m. on April 22, 2018, killing Taurean Sanderlin, 29; Joey Perez, 20; Akilah Dasilva, 23; and DeEbony Groves, 21. He fled after restaurant patron James Shaw Jr. wrestled his assault-style rifle away from him, triggering a manhunt.

NASHVILLE WAFFLE HOUSE SHOOTER TRAVIS REINKING WROTE TO TAYLOR SWIFT, OPRAH WINFREY: TESTIMONY

Reinking looked in the direction of his parents, sitting in the gallery, after the jury read the first of 16 guilty verdicts, but otherwise showed minimal reaction. Meanwhile, survivors of the shooting and family members sitting across the aisle audibly gasped, crying and hugging as they left the courtroom.

Travis Reinking sits in court in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Associated Press)

Travis Reinking sits in court in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Associated Press)

“True justice is having my son here,” Dasilva’s mother, Shaundelle Brooks, told reporters after the verdict. “This is the closest (thing) to true justice.”

“True justice is having my son here. This is the closest (thing) to true justice.”

— Shaundelle Brooks, mother of murder victim

The jury will reconvene on Saturday to hear victim impact statements and decide whether Reinking will spend the rest of his life in prison or will have the possibility of parole. Brooks said she believes he should not be allowed parole.

Evidence presented during the trial showed Reinking had schizophrenia and had suffered delusions for years, believing that unknown people were tormenting him. He contacted law enforcement several times to report that he was being threatened, stalked and harassed. In July 2017, he was detained by the Secret Service after he ventured unarmed into a restricted area on the White House grounds and demanded to meet with then-President Donald Trump.

Travis Reinking, the suspect in a Waffle House shooting in Nashville, is arrested in Antioch, Tennessee, April 23, 2018. (Nashville police via Reuters)

Travis Reinking, the suspect in a Waffle House shooting in Nashville, is arrested in Antioch, Tennessee, April 23, 2018. (Nashville police via Reuters)

His behavior was so alarming that state police in Illinois, where he lived at the time, revoked Reinking’s state firearms owner identification. But that only meant he had to turn over his guns to someone else with valid identification. Reinking surrendered the guns to his father, who later returned them to his son.

Since law enforcement declined to take his delusions seriously, Reinking began to feel that they and other random people were part of a conspiracy against him, psychologists testified at trial. Shortly before the attack, he believed that someone had drugged him, broken into his apartment and raped him. Reinking told psychologists that while praying about what to do, he received a command from God to go to the Waffle House and shoot three people.

To prove Reinking was not guilty by reason of insanity, defense attorneys had to show not only that he suffered from a severe mental illness, but also that the illness left him unable to understand the wrongfulness of his actions.

The truck of Travis Reinking is loaded on a trailer ready to be towed from the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tennessee, April 22, 2018. (Reuters)

The truck of Travis Reinking is loaded on a trailer ready to be towed from the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tennessee, April 22, 2018. (Reuters)

Prosecutors presented evidence that Reinking was calm and cooperative after his arrest, able to understand and respond to commands. Although Reinking was naked when he walked from the crime scene, when he was captured nearly two days later, he was dressed and carrying a backpack loaded with water bottles, sunscreen, a pistol, ammunition, Bible and several silver bars. And they mentioned he had asked to talk to an attorney after his arrest.

Davidson County Assistant District Attorney General Ronald Dowdy suggested that Reinking was acting out of revenge. He noted that days before the shooting, Reinking stole a BMW from a dealership. Reinking wrote in a journal about plans to drive to Colorado, describing a life in which he would hang out with friends, smoke marijuana, hike in the mountains and “repossess” cars and houses so that he would not have to work, Dowdy said.

Detective Desmond Sumerel reads the letters Travis Reinking wrote to Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift, in front of a jury in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 2, 2022. (Associated Press)

Detective Desmond Sumerel reads the letters Travis Reinking wrote to Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift, in front of a jury in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 2, 2022. (Associated Press)

After police took the BMW back the next day, he wrote, “This time I would have to punish them by taking something they couldn’t take back, some of their own lives,” the prosecutor said.

“He got upset, and so he drove to that Waffle House angry, because he wanted to exact the same kind of pain and suffering that he felt, on others,” Dowdy said during closing arguments.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Prosecutor Jan Norman also emphasized Reinking’s own account of the shooting: He said that after killing Perez, “I felt like I was going to throw up because this was something God told me to do but it felt evil.”

The jury on Friday also convicted Reinking on four counts of attempted first-degree murder and four counts of unlawful employment of a firearm during commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony. In addition to the four people he killed, he seriously wounded Sharita Henderson and Shantia Waggoner. Kayla Shaw and James Shaw Jr., who are not related, suffered lesser injuries.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Subscribe

Popular

More like this
Related

North Carolina's lottery numbers for Tuesday, Aug. 9

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! ...

Rose care: Deadhead roses at a specific 'angle' to avoid the plant 'rotting'

With the weather remaining hot and dry, some...

Beluga whale euthanized after rescue from Seine River in France

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! ...