NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Survivors of the Waffle House shooting like James Shaw Jr. will tell you that the actions of Travis Reinking have stayed with them for the past 1,385 days.
Shaw recalls the times when he wrestled Reinking to the ground, disarmed him, and finally put an end to the mass shooting.
“Now that everyone sees it, I hope they believe it. Now that you all see it, I hope you never have to go through that because you haven’t heard things yet, you haven’t felt things yet, you haven’t smelled things yet. All they did was watch it. I live it,” Shaw said.
Although Reinking has since received mental health treatment, District Attorney Glenn Funk said he believes he knew what he was doing before and during the shooting.
“This was a situation where Mr. Reinking had a serious mental health issue, no question. But it wasn’t so serious that he didn’t appreciate the wrongfulness of what he was doing at the time,” Funk said. “He said this is bad, this is going to make me feel dirty, he knew it before he got in the car, he knew it when he was in the car, he knew it when he parked outside, and he knew it when he got in there and fired all 30 rounds.”
Throughout the course of discovery and trial, Funk said Reinking tried to explain his actions away from any mental health cause.
“He did, and then he tries to say, ‘Well, this is self-defense because my toilet seat was up.’ Or, ‘This is self-defense because life hasn’t treated me well.’ Another excuse he tries to come up with is, ‘Well, God told me to do this.’ You cannot take the name of the Lord in vain; you can’t say that God told you to commit mass murder. You can’t just make that up in an effort to get out and be found not guilty for the fact that you chose to murder four people. In fact, he decided to murder many more than four people, but in reality he only murdered four people.”
For those who survived, they said Reinking’s guilty verdict and life in prison without parole gives them some form of peace.
“Today it was very comforting to discover that through our pain, someone else saw it, someone else was moved. Someone else saw that in those videos and in those diaries it was not a mental health crisis that was happening; he was just an angry young man and he was miserable and he wanted someone to be miserable along with him,” Shaw said.
Funk said life behind bars for Reinking was exactly what he and his team hoped for after the trial.
“People who can understand that what they are doing is wrong need to be held accountable. That’s what this jury did,” Funk said.
Reinking will remain in custody in Nashville for the next six weeks. He will be transferred to state custody, which could include a mental needs facility.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism