NASHVILLE — Funeral arrangements have been set for three of the four fatal victims of the Waffle House shooting rampage, their deaths mourned as donations poured in Thursday for victims of last weekend’s attack.
A gunman identified as Travis Reinking, naked save for a green jacket, opened fire Sunday outside the Nashville restaurant with an assault-style rifle and then stormed inside, police said.
A candlelight vigil was being organized Thursday evening in Nashville’s Centennial Park for 23-year-old Akilah DaSilva, a musician living in the southeast Nashville neighbourhood of Antioch where the attack occurred. A family member said his funeral would be private. He was gunned down inside the restaurant.
DeEbony Groves, a 21-year-old senior at Tennessee’s Belmont University, also was killed inside the restaurant. Her visitation will be Friday at a Baptist Church in Gallatin with a funeral Saturday. And a private viewing is planned Friday at a Nashville funeral home for Taurean Sanderlin, a 29-year-old restaurant worker shot in the parking lot. His private memorial will be Saturday.
Also killed was 20-year-old Nashville resident Joe Perez, but no information has been released by his family.
The Waffle House workers had expressed a desire to reopen quickly and they wore orange ribbons, wept, and hugged each other as they got back to work Wednesday.
Waffle House is donating a month of the store’s profits to the victims’ kin and to the two survivors who remain hospitalized.
A steady stream of customers has been stopping by to grab a meal and show solidarity, like Tammy Burnside, who got takeout Wednesday.
“I just had to come by,” she said of her desire to pay respects to the victims. “When they died, it felt like something died in Nashville.”
Four white crosses have been erected outside the restaurant. On Wednesday, one woman who was working during the attack, her face still bearing scrapes, knelt before the crosses and wept.
Meanwhile, several GoFundMe accounts have been set up for the victims. Police have said there could have been more bloodshed, praising a quick-thinking customer, James Shaw Jr., who wrestled away the suspect’s AR-15 rifle.
Shaw, who was hailed as a hero both by lawmakers and law enforcement, has raised more than $160,000 for the victims through a GoFundMe page. Someone also has helped raise nearly $180,000 for Shaw on the fundraising site, and at least three more GoFundMe pages have been set up for survivors or the families of the dead.
Reinking, 29, faces multiple charges including four counts of criminal homicide. A public defender listed as his attorney has not responded to an email seeking comment. Police have said they still don’t know of a motive for the attack.
A onetime crane operator, Reinking has bounced between states and suffered from delusions, sometimes talking about plans to marry singer Taylor Swift, friends and relatives have told authorities. Numerous reports of his odd behaviour have surfaced around the country, with a new one Thursday arising from a police report in eastern Tennessee.
A woman staying in February at the Alcoa Inn in Alcoa, Tennessee, said Reinking began yelling outside her motel room, charged her and entered her room after the she opened the door to ask him to be quiet, according to police. The police report said Reinking balled up his fist as if he would strike her but then laughed at her and walked away as she let out a slight scream.
Police reported the woman was visibly shaken when an officer arrived. Reinking, the report added, denied entering the woman’s room or threatening her, but admitted yelling because other guests had been loud. Reinking told police he was in Alcoa working on a construction job. He was not arrested.
Reinking was detained by the Secret Service in July after he ventured unarmed into a forbidden area on the White House grounds and demanded to meet with President Donald Trump.
Sheila Burke, The Associated Press