The second day of the murder trial of a man who shot and murdered four people inside a Nashville Waffle House in 2018 has seen testimony from witness Kayla Shaw.

Waffle house

Image Via localmemphis.com

Around 3:20 a.m. on April 22, 2018, Kayla Shaw was waiting at a Nashville Waffle House for her order to go when her life altered irrevocably. She testified Tuesday that the first sign of a gunman outside was a plate glass window that broke inward.

Travis Reinking would kill four people in a matter of seconds and badly hurt two more.

After a gripping first day of testimony in which witnesses described the panic and carnage from the shooting incident, Shaw took the stand on the second day of Reinking’s murder trial.

In addition to other attempted murder and weapons charges, Reinking is accused of four first-degree murders. The 33-year-old defendant is up for life in prison without the chance of release, according to the prosecution.

In her testimony on Tuesday, Shaw said that she had hurried inside the eatery to get an order for herself and two friends who remained in the car and watched the incident unfold. As the surveillance video was shown in court, Shaw detailed her actions.

While numerous others placed their orders inside, including Akilah Dasilva, who would later die, she waited at the counter.

Shaw landed on the ground after the glass broke and wedged herself between the bar stools and the counter. Reinking, who is otherwise naked but for a green jacket, may be seen sprinting in. He is brandishing an assault-style rifle, which he fires a few times until James Shaw Jr., who had taken refuge behind a swinging door leading to the bathrooms, jumps on him, knocks him to the ground, and wrestles the gun away. Reinking is forced out the door as Shaw continues to struggle with him while throwing the revolver over the counter.

Image Via Courthouse News Service

James Shaw, a witness on Monday who is not related to Kayla Shaw, claimed that Reinking once used a racial epithet outside while claiming that Shaw had disarmed him. Reinking, a white man, killed two Black and two Hispanic people. He was apprehended almost two days later.

Tuesday during her testimony, Kayla Shaw said that she heard the struggle but didn’t glance up. She was unable to see Reinking’s face. As soon as she heard other people moving and conversing, she fled for the restaurant’s exit, tripping on Dasilva’s blood and collapsing to the ground. When she did, Shantia Waggoner, Dasilva’s girlfriend, was lying on the ground with her leg almost severed. Before rising once more, she muttered a quick prayer. Her terrified expression was captured on camera as she turned around and ran outdoors.

After she and Dasilva were shot, Waggoner called 911, but she grew irritated when the dispatchers kept asking for an address, which she didn’t know. After that, she hung up and made a call to her mother. Waggoner’s tired, perplexed mother initially believed her to be drinking shots of alcohol, which made Waggoner chuckle despite everything.

She had been seeing Dasilva for seven years, on and off, when paramedics quickly arrived and placed him onto a cart. I just told him, ‘I love you,’ right before they hauled him away,” she recalled. After being shot in the lung, Dasilva was unable to speak. The last time she would ever see him alive was then.

Sharita Henderson, who had been seated outside the door with her companion and sorority sister DeEbony Groves, also testified on Monday.

Joe Perez and Taurean Sanderlin were killed in the parking lot by Reinking before he entered the building. Reinking drew up and got out of his truck.

Henderson stated, “I saw Taurean go outside to have a smoke break. Joe turned to me and mouthed the words “Play dead” as I peered out the window as the glass broke. At first, I had not noticed Joe. So I did just that. He was then shot in the head, killing him.

Groves was instructed to kneel by Henderson, who then attempted to cover her to protect her. Groves passed away, and Henderson, who was shot three times, is still using crutches. Henderson claimed that she established eye contact with Reinking just before he shot her, confident that he could see her pleading expression.

He remained silent, but when he looked me in the eyes, she added, “He was determined—like he understood what he was doing and what he planned to accomplish.”

As a result of his insanity, Reinking entered a not guilty plea. So, in addition to demonstrating that he had a serious mental disease, he must also demonstrate how the sickness prevented him from understanding the impropriety of his behaviour. Reinking had severe schizophrenia, which had gotten worse over time, according to defence attorney Luke Evans’ opening remarks on the case on Monday.

He thought he was speaking with God directly, Evans claimed. “He thought that everyday citizens were out to harm him and had already begun harming him. In order to defend himself and other people, Mr. Reinking thought he had received a command from God to go to the Waffle House. He believed that the employees at Waffle House were government agents.

Shooting:

Reinking was only wearing a green jacket when the shooting started, and he was almost completely naked. He spent about four minutes waiting in a pickup truck in the parking lot before he emerged, brandishing an AR-15-style rifle, and shot two individuals to death in front of the Waffle House. As he proceeded to fire inside the eatery, he killed a third person, critically injured a fourth, who later died at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and injured four more people who were being treated for similar wounds. One patron, James Shaw Jr., age 29, who received a graze wound from a bullet, concealed close to the restrooms of the establishment, charged the gunman, and took the rifle from him. Reinking then abandoned his jacket and escaped on foot while completely naked.

Perpetrator:

Illinois’ Morton is the hometown of Travis Reinking. He was known for his unpredictable behaviour, paranoia, and delusions. Taylor Swift was the object of his specific obsession. He once misled his coworkers by declaring that he was gay and that he was engaged to be married to Taylor Swift at the same time. In May 2016, Tazewell County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call from Reinking’s parents in a pharmacy parking lot, where a paramedic reported that Reinking had hallucinations about Swift personally stalking him and hacking his phone. The report mentioned: “Travis does not respect police authority and is hostile to them. Travis also has a number of weapons.”

In Tremont, Illinois, Reinking resided in an apartment above his father’s crane rental company in 2017. He was a crane operator for another business, but he left that position in March 2017 because he thought the police were after him. Additionally, he stated that he had one final chance to wed Taylor Swift. In June 2017, a worker at his father’s company reported Reinking to authorities, alleging he had entered the building wearing a pink dress, tossed a gun into his trunk, and shouting an expletive. Around the same time, a public pool manager reported Reinking had entered the facility wearing a “pink women’s housecoat” before exposing himself to the lifeguards.

Reinking broke through a barrier in July 2017 and resisted being removed, so the US Secret Service detained him close to the White House. Reinking allegedly stated that he “wanted to arrange up a meeting with the president,” according to the Secret Service. He mentioned being a “sovereign citizen,” according to the article. Reinking went under a deferred prosecution deal in July 2017 after being charged with unlawful entry (a misdemeanour), as part of which he was required to conduct 32 hours of community service and refrain from visiting the White House. The court dismissed the case in November 2017 after Reinking successfully finished the course.

The AR-15 used in the shooting in Nashville, two other rifles (a.30-06 Remington Model 710 & a.22-caliber CZ 452-2EZKM), and a handgun were all taken into custody by Illinois authorities after Reinking was arrested. His state guns licence was also cancelled. Sheriff’s officers agreed to let Reinking’s father, Jeffrey Reinking, who had a valid state permission card, keep the firearms after he convinced them that “he would keep them secure and away from” his son. This is according to the sheriff of Tazewell County, Illinois. Later, Reinking’s father acknowledged that he had given his son the firearms some time prior to the shooting.

Reinking, who arrived to the Nashville region in the fall of 2017, worked as a crane operator and construction worker from January to April 2018, according to a spokesman for the Nashville police. On April 3, 2018, he was let go for saying that individuals, including other employees, were “after him.” According to authorities, Reinking stole a BMW X6 from a dealership in Brentwood, Tennessee, four days before the Waffle House massacre. Using GPS, investigators were able to track the car to Reinking’s apartment complex and find the keyfob inside.

Arrest:

No notes were left by Reinking. Police launched a manhunt for him and issued a public alert about his possible possession of two other guns. He was listed to the “most wanted” list by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which also offered a reward for information that would result in his capture. About 34 hours after the shooting, Reinking was apprehended the following day after a construction worker saw him entering a forested area close to the Waffle House. According to the police, Reinking was toting a backpack that included a Kimber 1911 handgun and ammo in.45 calibre.

Legal actions:

Four counts of criminal homicide, four counts of attempted homicide, and one count of possessing a firearm while committing a serious offence were brought against Reinking. In August 2018, a judge declared Reinking incapable to face trial and ordered his commitment to a mental hospital for treatment after forensic psychologists who examined him concluded that he had severe schizophrenia. He was, however, ruled competent to stand trial once more in October 2018. Prosecutors declared they would not seek the death sentence for Reinking at a court hearing in January 2020. He was then given the option of receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Early in 2022 was the trial’s scheduled date. To 16 counts of murder and assault with a dangerous weapon, the gunman entered a not guilty plea. The shooter modified his first not guilty plea to not guilty due to insanity on the day of the trial.

On January 25, 2022, the jury selection phase of the trial began. On January 31, the opening arguments were heard. On February 4, 2022, Reinking was found guilty of all charges, including four counts of premeditated first-degree murder. The defense’s claim of not guilty by reason of insanity was rejected. Before rendering its judgements, the jury pondered for about five hours. Reinking was given a life sentence without the possibility of release the next day.

Aftermath:

Mayor of Nashville David Briley stated shortly after the incident, “It’s a horrible day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. The governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, expressed his “deep sadness” over the horrific incident that occurred in Antioch early this morning and his “mourning for the lives lost in this senseless act of violence.” Jim Cooper, a congressman, campaigned for limiting “commonplace civilian access to military-grade assault weapons.”

By May 7, Shaw had amassed $227,000 for the shooting victims’ relief fund through GoFundMe. On that day, Shaw’s alma mater Tennessee State University established a scholarship in his honour. Civil lawsuits were brought against Travis Reinking and his family by the families of two victims. After giving the weapons back to his son, Jeffrey Reinking was later charged with “unlawful transmission of a firearm.” In May 2022, a conviction was reached.

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