At least four people died when a nearly nude gunman opened fire at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tennessee, early Sunday, April 22. Police were issuing murder warrants as they hunted for the suspect.
The death toll could have been higher if not for fast action by a 29-year-old “hero” who snatched away the shooter’s rifle, likely saving many more lives, said Don Aaron, spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police.
A man believed to be Travis Reinking was last seen in a wood line near Discovery at Mountain View Apts. on Mountain Springs Dr. near the Waffle House. The man was seen wearing black pants and no shirt.
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
Police identified 29-year-old Travis Reinking of Morton, Illinois, as a suspect in the carnage. Reinking is said to live near the restaurant. They said the gunman’s vehicle was registered to him and a shirtless man wearing pants believed to be Reinking was spotted in the woods near the restaurant.
The gunman, who was naked but for a green jacket, shot and killed two people in the parking lot of the restaurant in Antioch, a section of southeast Nashville, shortly before 3:30 a.m.
He then entered the restaurant and opened fire, police said, killing one patron and wounding another, who later died.
One diner who had hidden near the restrooms dashed out and pulled the rifle from the gunman.
“The shots had stopped so he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter and, at that point, the gunman fled,” Aaron said.
As he ran away, the shooter discarded the jacket, which contained additional ammunition, according to police.
Although police were referring to Reinking as “a person of interest,” Aaron said “person of interest is synonymous to suspect” in this case.
Two people wounded in the shooting are at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. One is in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition, said hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel.
Police told CNN the gunman shed his jacket before fleeing on foot. It was unclear if he had another weapon. Local media reported a second shooting nearby might be connected to the Waffle House incident.
Police cautioned that the man is to be considered still armed and extremely dangerous.
The man who disarmed the shooter suffered non-life-threatening wounds, including an injured elbow, police said, and some patrons suffered facial wounds from shattered glass.
Reuters contributed to this report.