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Travis Reinking, shooter suspected of opening fire in a Tennessee Waffle House, killing four and injuring three others. (Metro Nashville Police Department)

Tennessee Waffle House mass shooter from Illinois; local 'hero' saved lives

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By ADRIAN MOJICA, FOX 17 News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - Metro Nashville Police say a 29-year-old Waffle House patron is a hero after stopping a gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle, killing four and injuring three others.

Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said the suspect, Travis Reinking, of Illinois, pulled up to the store wearing only a green jacket and opened fire, then entered the store with the weapon.

Once inside, the patron "rushed him," then wrestled away the rifle and threw it behind the counter. Reinking then fled the scene.

Aaron says Reinking shed his jacket at the restaurant, fleeing completely naked into a nearby woodline. The jacket had ammo cartridges in the pockets.

Aaron says the patron who wrestled the gun from Reinking is a "hero," much like an Antioch church usher who wrestled a gun from a church shooter last year.

Reinking fled to a nearby apartment complex, where he is believed to have obtained a pair of black pants. The search is ongoing in the area. ATF and multiple agencies are assisting in the search.

Police are not sure what Reinking was doing in Nashville, but Aaron says federal and other state agencies are familiar with him from previous interactions. According to a criminal history report from the state of Illinois, Reinking does not have a handgun permit and has several traffic infractions.

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Metro Police are cognizant of church services in the area and are doing everything possible to ensure safety as the manhunt continues.

Aaron says other patrons were wounded during the gunfire and many were shaken up. Some people were not transported to the hospital but did suffer minor injuries from glass debris hitting their faces. Of the four people killed, three died at the scene. In total, six people were shot.

The restaurant is still being processed since one of the fatalities is still on the scene. Police are working to preserve evidence at this time.

Nashville Mayor David Briley and Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper each issued statements in the wake of the shooting.

LISTEN | Waffle House shooting radio transmission

Briley called it a "tragic" day for the city.

“It’s a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. My heart goes out to the families and friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning’s shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime. There's clearly more to be said about these circumstances, but for now I ask Nashville to pray for and rally around these victims and join me in thanking the Metro Nashville Police Department as it works to find and apprehend the shooter.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley

Cooper also shared his condolences and issued a call for restricting access to assault weapons:

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“Nashville woke up to devastating news. We mourn the innocent victims and thank our brave first responders,” Rep. Cooper said. “Many will say now is not the time to discuss change. But now IS the time. We can and must do everything possible to prevent these tragedies and keep Americans safe. That starts with restricting widespread civilian access to military-grade assault weapons.”
Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper

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