NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After an emotional response to a jury finding Travis Reinking guilty on all counts related to the 2018 Antioch Waffle House shooting, Reinking has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Saturday, the jury heard impact statements and then determined Reinking should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The verdict was read just after 2 p.m.
On Friday, Reinking was found guilty on 16 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of unlawful employment of [a] firearm during [the] commission of a felony, and four counts of first-degree felony murder.
The jury reached their verdict Friday after deliberating for roughly three and a half hours.
Saturday’s sentencing comes nearly four years after the shooting that claimed the lives of four people, including DeEbony Groves, 21, Akilah Dasilva, 23, Taurean Sanderlin, 29, and Joe Perez, 20 — in the early morning hours of April 22, 2018. Four others were injured.
The shooting happened in the early morning hours of April 22, 2018 after Reinking pulled up to the Waffle House located on Murfreesboro Pike, partially naked and armed with an AR-15.
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Patricia Perez, Joe’s mother, was the first to speak following the sentencing. Joe became Reinking’s first victim when he was shot outside the restaurant.
“I’ve always been somebody that they say is unbreakable, because no matter what our family has been through, I’ll always be the one to bring our family up. This has broken me, not just my spirit….but also my mind,” she said.
Akilah Dasilva’s mother Shaundelle Brooks also spoke. Since the tragedy, she created a foundation to honor her son’s memory. Akilah died shortly after the shooting, succumbing to his wounds.
“Every morning I wake up with the same thought – my baby is gone. Every morning before I even get out of my bed, I relive that night in my head,” Brooks said. “Every morning I feel that unbearable sense of loss and sorrow. I miss him. The pain is so great that some days I’m not sure I can even open my eyes.”
DeEbony Groves’ mother expressed heartbreak over the loss of her daughter, who was just 21 years old.
“My days now are spent with scheduled weekly visits to the cemetery, which is usually on Sunday’s because I pass by going to church and coming back home,” Shirl Groves Baker said. “Many days of unmanageable tears; I just can’t seem to control them continually flowing….a broken heart in my soul.”
Taurean Sanderlin was a worker at the Waffle House, and his cousin remembered the many good times they had together as well as the difficulty explaining to his son that Taureen wasn’t coming back.
“I don’t really talk about my cousin a lot, so my son came up to me just asking where he was, and then having to look at him like my son….and not being able to explain it. I know I wasn’t able to explain it all. I’m pretty sure his grandma or somebody else had to explain it because probably at the time to this day there’s always going to be a part of me that’s going to tear up any time I talk about Taureen or see something about him,” William Murray said.
James Shaw Jr., who was dining at the Waffle House, was deemed a hero after surveillance footage showed him tackling and disarming Reinking.
It took law enforcement roughly 34-hours to track down Reinking following the shooting. He was finally apprehended in a wooded area down the road from the Waffle House and near the apartment complex where he was living at the time.
Reinking was treated for schizophrenia before the trial could proceed. His treatment, paired with complications caused by the pandemic, delayed the trial several months.
Out of the heartache, families have found ways to honor their loved ones who were lost during the tragedy. The DaSilva Foundation was founded in memory of Akilah Dasilva, one of the four victims killed.
“My brother focused on gun violence. He was against violence. He was against guns. So it was only right that we was obligated to keep that fight going,” brother Abede DaSilva said after the guilty verdict. “We started a foundation in the name of Akilah. The Akilah DaSilva foundation. “Basically, not to take away guns fully, but to stop people from being able to use guns like AR-15s, exploding bullets, background checks, mental illnesses and making sure that guns don’t get in the wrong hands of the wrong people and that’s what we’ve mainly been focused on.”
Reinking’s father, Jeff Reinking, is accused of giving Travis his guns back after law enforcement tasked him with keeping them away from his son. The request came in 2017 from police in Tazwell County, Illinois, after an incident involving Travis and federal authorities.
Jeffrey Reinking faces criminal charges in Illinois.
Patricia Perez, mother of Joe Perez told News 2 after Friday’s verdict, her next goal was to hold Jeffery Reinking accountable.
“I am going to fight to make sure that he, too, gets what he deserves in what he did wrong because his son was not the only one in the wrong here, he was, too,” Patricia Perez said.
Several victims’ families have sued Jeffery Reinking in civil court.