Antioch Waffle House victims remembered 3 years after mass shooting

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ANTIOCH, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thursday marks three years since the mass shooting at an Antioch Waffle House where four people lost their lives.

It was in the early morning hours of April 22, 2018 when a man pulled up to the Waffle House on Murfreesboro Pike armed with an AR-15 and began shooting.

The suspect was partially naked, wearing only a green jacket. He shot two people outside the restaurant and then two more inside before an unarmed man rushed the shooter and wrestled the weapon away from him.

Four people were killed — DeEbony Groves, 21, Akilah Dasilva, 23, Taurean Sanderlin, 29, and Joe Perez, 20. Four others were injured.

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James Shaw, Jr., who was dining at the restaurant with a friend, tackled the gunman and prevented more carnage. The suspect ran from the Waffle House, leaving behind his rifle and ammunition.

He was the hero Nashville needed that day and for months to come.  

“An individual who was in the Waffle House, a patron, when he heard the gunshots, actually ran back to the restroom area. He watched the gunman,” Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron said at the time. “He reported that he saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point the shots had stopped. He decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter. At that point, the gunman then fled.” 

Law enforcement officers searched tirelessly around the Antioch area for the suspect. Travis Reinking was captured and taken into police custody in a wooded area near the Waffle House after a 34 hour manhunt.

The tragedy is still fresh for the families of the victims, particularly the loved ones of Akilah Dasilva.

Before his death, he was pursuing a degree in computer engineering and was an aspiring rapper that went by the name “Natrix Dream.”

The Dasilva family has spoken out frequently against gun violence and started a foundation in his memory two years ago.

His brother, Abede Dasilva, told News 2 their loss still stings. Akilah Dasilva was charismatic and pushed himself to learn everything and anything. The foundation turned their pain into a platform as his family works with young students to spread awareness on how to prevent gun violence while also helping individuals at risk of hurting themselves.

Abede Dasilva said their other mission is to keep Akilah’s memory alive and the memories of the other three victims.

After three years and still no trial, waiting for justice has been a painful and slow process.

“It’s frustrating you know, just have to even wait longer than we anticipated it to be because of COVID, slowing down the trial, frustrating to have to wait and know that we still haven’t got justice yet, still have to deal with that, very frustrating though,” explained Abede Dasilva.

With the Tennessee’s recent permitless carry bill passing, the Dasilvas are motivated more than ever before. Keeping Akilah Dasilva’s memory and the other victims legacies alive is their other mission and the community’s response has given them hope.

“The support from the community is just so great, you know even though it’s a tragic situation, I’m very grateful for the support from the community, people who I’ve never even known or know my brother to have so much love for us, it really helps.”

Travis Reinking’s trial was stalled after he was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and treated at a state mental health institute. He has now been ruled competent to stand trial.

A remembrance ceremony is planned for Thursday at 5 p.m. at Southeast Community Center on Hickory Hollow Parkway. To learn more about the Akila Dasilva Foundation, click here.

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