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Semi-nude gunman kills 4 at US restaurant

Monday, April 23, 2018

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NASHVILLE, United States (AP) — A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn yesterday, according to police, who credited a customer with saving lives by wresting the assailant's weapon away.

The gunman shot people in the parking lot before entering the restaurant, where he continued firing until a customer grabbed the rifle, Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said. Four people were also wounded before the gunman fled, shedding his jacket.

Authorities said they were searching for the suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, and that they were drafting murder warrants for him. Nashville police tweeted that the pickup truck the gunman drove to the restaurant was registered to Reinking.

In a news release, Metropolitan Nashville Police identified three of those killed as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C Sanderlin of Goodlettsville, 20-year-old restaurant patron Joe R Perez of Nashville, 23-year-old Akilah Dasilva of Nashville, and 21-year-old Deebony Groves from Gallatin, Tennessee.

The statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Groves was fatally wounded inside the restaurant.

Being treated for gunshot wounds at Vanderbilt are 21-year-old Shanita Waggoner and 24-year-old Sharita Henderson, both of Nashville.

Witness Chuck Cordero told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the restaurant when the chaos unfolded around 3:25 am.

“He did not say anything,” Cordero said of the gunman, whom he described as “all business”.

Cordero said the man who wrested the gun from the suspect saved lives. “Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there were plenty more people in that restaurant,” he said.

Police identified the man who grabbed the weapon as 29-year-old James Shaw, Jr.

Shaw told The Tennessean in an interview that he was “just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it”.

The newspaper reported that Shaw was grazed by a bullet, treated and released.

“When I was in the ambulance to hospital I kept thinking that I'm going to wake up and it's not going to be real,” Shaw said. “It is something out of a movie. I'm OK though, but I hate that it happened.”

Aaron said the gunman arrived at the restaurant and waited in the parking lot for four minutes before shooting two people outside.

At some point after the gunman entered, Shaw grabbed his rifle and tossed it over a counter, Aaron said. The gunman then fled and was seen walking, nude, on a road, authorities said.

Police were still searching for him amid a steady rain more than 10 hours after the shooting.

Aaron said Reinking lived near the restaurant in the working- and middle-class Antioch neighbourhood of south-east Nashville, and police used yellow crime scene tape to block public access to an apartment complex about a half-mile from the Waffle House.

Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois, and was known to both Illinois and federal law enforcement, Aaron said.

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