WASHINGTON • Police in the US are hunting for a semi-nude gunman who shot four people dead at a waffle restaurant in the Tennessee city of Nashville in the early hours of Sunday, after he fled from a "hero" who disarmed him.
The suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, was last seen on Sunday morning behind his apartment complex and there had been "no credible sightings" since, Nashville police said yesterday.
Police said the suspect in the country's latest mass shooting may have had "mental issues", and the incident led the city's mayor to issue an unusually blunt call for "comprehensive gun reform".
Police said Reinking could be armed with a rifle and a handgun, after firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at the restaurant, where he was nude except for a green jacket.
Mr James Shaw, 29, who has been credited with saving the lives of other customers at the restaurant, told a press conference that he and his friend had sat down in the diner after visiting a nightclub, when they thought a pile of plates had crashed.
"I saw the Waffle House employees scatter. Then I looked back and I saw a person laying on the ground right at the entrance of the door," said Mr Shaw, whose right forearm was bandaged.
Mr Shaw said he slid from his table and moved towards the door, which the gunman was trying to enter after apparently firing through the glass.
I managed to get him with one hand on the gun, and then I grabbed it from him and threw it over the counter top.
MR JAMES SHAW, on tackling the gunman.
"I'm pretty sure he grazed my arm," said Mr Shaw. "I kind of made up my mind, because there's no way to lock that door, that if it was gonna come down to it, he was gonna have to work to kill me."
As the shooter was either reloading, or the weapon jammed, Mr Shaw ran and hit him with the swivel door, leading to a scuffle.
"I managed to get him with one hand on the gun, and then I grabbed it from him and threw it over the counter top," before getting the suspect outside, Mr Shaw said.
Police said they believe the gunman discarded the jacket while fleeing to his home, where he put on a pair of pants and then disappeared into nearby woods.
It was the second shooting in months to traumatise Nashville, but only the latest of many in the United States with a large number of casualties.
A grassroots campaign featuring mass rallies for gun control has emerged since February, when a former student opened fire with an AR-15 at a Florida high school, killing 17 students and staff.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS