Some Nashville schools on tight security as hunt for Waffle House shooter continues

Metro Davidson County Police inspecting the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, 2018.
Metro Davidson County Police inspecting the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

NASHVILLE (REUTERS, NYTIMES) - Public schools are on "lock-out" security on Monday (April 23) in a Nashville, Tennessee, neighbourhood near the Waffle House where a nearly nude gunman killed four people and wounded three others.

Scores of police officers, along with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, hunted overnight for the suspected shooter, Travis Reinking, 29, originally from Tazewell County, Illinois.

Police say Reinking fled the restaurant early Sunday in the Antioch neighbourhood after a patron wrestled an AR-15 assault-style rifle from him as he was reloading, police said.

The gunman, who was naked but for a green jacket, first shot and killed two people in the parking lot of the restaurant in southeastern Nashville, shortly before 3.30am Sunday (4.30pm Sunday Singapore time).

He then entered the restaurant and opened fire, police said, killing one patron and wounding another, who later died. Two other people were in critical condition at a hospital.

One diner, James Shaw Jr., 29, who hid near a restroom, dashed out and pulled the rifle from the gunman. His fast actions were credited with saving lives, but Shaw said at the news conference Sunday that he was no hero.

"I just wanted to live," said Shaw, who was grazed by a bullet.

 
 

As the shooter ran off, he discarded the jacket, which contained additional ammunition, according to police. Reinking is believed to be still armed with a pistol, police said.

All Metro Nashville Public schools in the area have been searched overnight and will be checked again before school opens, officials said on the department's Facebook page. Extra security will be in place at school bus stops.

No visitors or unauthorised people allowed on the campuses. The exact number of schools affected was not disclosed.

"Metro Nashville Public Schools Parents always have the final decision on whether to send their child to school," the statement said.

Amid the search for Reinking, who was arrested near the White House last July when he crossed a security barrier in pursuit of a meeting with President Donald Trump, the Nashville region took a cautious approach as the workweek began in the metropolitan area of more than 1.8 million people.

Other than his arrest in Washington last July, Reinking, 29, has had other encounters with law enforcement.

Police reports show family members expressed concern for his welfare after he exhibited delusional behaviour.

And after his arrest for the White House episode, Reinking was forced to surrender three rifles and a handgun to officials in August, just months before he moved to Nashville.

The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois gave the weapons he owned – including the AR-15 he took to the Waffle House on Sunday – to his father, Mr Jeffrey Reinking.

Police in Nashville indicated that Reinking’s father returned the weapons to his son.