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Nashville Waffle House Shooter Travis Reinking Found Guilty of Murdering Four People



The man who shot and killed four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, was convicted of murdering them. Attorneys for Travis Reinking, 33, said he suffered from schizophrenia, suffering years from delusions that pop star Taylor Swift and government agents harassed and stalked him. Prosecutors rejected that defense, saying he knew right from wrong. As clear from his behavior on being arrested, he could comport his actions within the law, the state said.

Reinking stormed the restaurant on April 22, 2018, killing Joe Perez Jr., 20, Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, DeEbony Groves, 21, and Akilah Dasilva, 23. The defense maintained that he was there to kill people he believed worked for the FBI and CIA—and that he thought God told him to be naked except for a green, waist-length jacket. Bystander James Shaw Jr. found an opening, grappled with Reinking, yanked the AR-15 rifle from his hands, and threw it over the counter.

[Warning: Video is disturbing.]


Reinking fled the scene. Authorities arrested him the next day. Attorneys Luke Evans and Paul Bruno painted these events as the tragic result of their client’s schizophrenia. He even believed that Swift had sexually assaulted him and people were breaking into his home, Evans said. Reinking had contacted law enforcement over this perceived persecution.

“Now that sounds totally crazy, and that’s because it is crazy. But none of us are schizophrenics,” Bruno told jurors in closing arguments on Friday.

Nothing except schizophrenia caused his actions, he said. Reinking could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his behavior, he said.

The state did not dispute that Reinking lived with mental illness, but they maintained that his actions before, during, and after the shooting disproved the insanity defense. Prosecutors Jan Norman and Roger Moore construed his actions as a calculated plan. Delivering the state’s rebuttal case, their colleague Ronald Dowdy pointed out that Reinking complied with law enforcement and medical staffers in spite of his supposed delusions about government agents tormenting him. He knew when to be compliant, and when he could act in the murderous way he wanted, the prosecutor said. The defendant had “delusions of grandeur.”

“He thinks he’s smarter than you,” Dowdy said. “He thinks he knows better than you.”

Bruno acknowledged that his client killed people and that the survivors went through a traumatic, life-altering event. And yet jurors should not make a verdict on sympathy, he said.

Prosecutors emphasized the immense emotional and physical trauma the survivors suffered. Dowdy highlighted the near-death experience of Groves’s friend Sharita Henderson. She tried to play dead, but Reinking shot her three times, even almost severing her leg.

“This is a man who was evil,” Dowdy said of Reinking. “He knew it was evil.”

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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