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Manhunt Underway for Waffle House Gunman; White House Aide: Trump Has no "Intention" of Firing Rosenstein, Sessions; W.H. Aide: Trump "Happy With Pruitt, Doing "Phenomenal Job"; Nashville P.D. Update Manhunt for Gunman Who Killed 4; 29-Year-Old James Shaw Jr. Hailed As a Hero. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired April 22, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:02] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right, we're following breaking news out of Tennessee where a manhunt is underway following a deadly shooting this morning at a Waffle House restaurant. Four people are dead and four others injured. At any moment, police will be holding a news conference. We'll of course bring that to you live as it happens.
So far this is what we know. Police are searching for 29-year-old Travis Reinking. Authorities say the gunman arrives in a truck and came out wielding an assault-type rifle. Police say a man believed to be Travis Reinking was last seen wearing black pants and no shirt. Apparently, he unloaded in the parking lot area and then, again, once he entered the restaurant.
Let's get more detail now from CNN's Dianne Gallagher who is awaiting the news conference. Well, Dianne, what are you learning?
All right, it looks like we've lost that signal so we'll check back with Dianne Gallagher when we have that again. The press conference is about to get underway.
Meantime, last hour, I did talk with a man who witnessed the shooting. Chuck Cordero described the scene as the shooter entered the Waffle House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCH CORDERO, WITNESSED THE SHOOTING: I'm just exhausted, tired, frazzled.
WHITFIELD: So, Chuck, if you don't mind, just kind of take me back to the early hours overnight and what happened, from the start at your visit there at the Waffle House.
CORDERO: I pulled in to the Waffle House to visit my buddies that worked there. I sat in my car for a minute because they were very busy. I guess me and the gunman pulled in at the same time. The cook, my buddy T, was outside smoking a cigarette, and he waved at me. I figured I would go talk to him while I waited. As I got out of my car, the gunman got out of his truck, shot one of the customers that was entering the restaurant ask then shot my friend as he was trying to get away. At that time, I dropped to the ground and was able to keep an eye on the shooter from underneath my car. I was just fearful that he was going to come around my car and try and get to me, but as I watched him, he fired a few shots through the window and then he stepped inside the restaurant and started opening fire inside the restaurant.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. So when you -- you saw that, you know, he aimed and shot at your friend and then made his way inside the restaurant, what was the lapse of time here? How quickly did all of this happen and describe for us who is now -- the suspect is being described as Travis Reinking, but describe for me the demeanor, what he appeared like to you when all of this was unfolding.
CORDERO: It was just really, really bizarre. He had tall, thin, kind of disheveled brownish-blond hair and naked. It was just really, really bizarre. No real demeanor. He got out of his vehicle and just started shooting.
He didn't say nothing to nobody, he didn't have anything to say. He just came to shoot people, I guess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That firsthand account of everything that happened there. Four people dead, others injured. Our Dianne Gallagher is joining us now there in Tennessee. A press conference about to get underway. What can you tell us?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred, any minute now this press conference should begin. We're hoping to get a little more information on the suspect, potentially a motive. But really right now a lot, of people in this area concerned about the search for that suspect because he is still on the loose.
Now, initially we'll hear from Nashville Police. Looking at this list here, we're also going to hear from the FBI, the ATF, and the Waffle House CEO, again, to get a little bit more information on the background on this suspect. We know he lived in the Nashville area but he was from Illinois. We're hoping to hear whether or not why he would have been on anybody's radar, if he was actually on their radar.
Now, you talked about what happened. We just heard from Chuck there the experience that he had. There was a gentleman in there, a 29- year-old, James Shaw Jr., that once the shooter came in, he shot the two people in the parking lot. He came into the Waffle House and began shooting again. We're told that James Shaw Jr., who was in the building there, ran to the bathroom and he waited for a moment when he saw the shooter sort of pause. At that point he came -- he tackled the shooter, was able to get the gun away from him, throw it across the counter and that's when the shooter fled the Waffle House and went into the woods there.
Again, he had been seeing walking down the road later but that appears to be the last sighting. Now we talked to people on line who live in the Antioch area who've gotten video of some of the police officers there with their K-9s searching the area. It's been raining for almost the entire day here, and it came down really heavy not too long ago which can complicate things at times.
So a lot of the people who live in that immediate area have said that they're a little bit frightened. They're nervous because they don't know where this guy is. Now, the weapon of course was left at the Waffle House. He fled without it.
[15:05:03] So police do have it in their possession, they've been tracking it (INAUDIBLE) trying to, you know, figure out a lot of other things to that. And so we should hear more again about that, and we can have a little bit more information for you, Fred immediately after this press conference here.
WHITFIELD: And Dianne, real quick, has it been said once that, you know, the gunman -- the alleged gunman Reinking left the Waffle House, ran out, did he get back into his vehicle since some witnesses saw him get out of the vehicle or is he believed to be on foot?
GALLAGHER: He is believed to be on foot.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right, we'll check back with you when that press conference gets underway. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much for that. And of course, we'll continue to follow the latest as he we get information.
All right, meantime, right now, President Trump is returning to Washington where he has a pretty busy week in store. First up, his first official state dinner hosting French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife. This as the ongoing Russia investigation continues to be a rather sour subject, the president tweeting a short time ago, a complete witchhunt. I haven't heard that before.
And over the weekend, Trump also lashing out at former FBI Director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The president also critical of his attorney general Jeff Sessions and deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein. But despite the tough talk, Trump aides say there will be no shake-up at the Department of Justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Do you believe that Republicans on Capitol Hill would be supportive if the president fired Mr. Rosenstein or Mr. Sessions?
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: You know, Chuck, I think on your show you've had me several times, and I'm grateful, and we've always had the same conversations about when is the president is going to fire one of these guys.
TODD: I must say, he himself brings it up.
(INAUDIBLE) SHORT: (INAUDIBLE) last week, OK, when is he going to fire Rosenstein, when is he going to fire Mueller? We have the same conversation. As far as I know the president has no intention of fire these people.
TODD: Right, but it's always as far I as know and the president -- he never says definitively, why not.
SHORT: He has no intention.
TODD: Did definitively, it's not going to happen, this investigation is going to run its course, period, end of story. I'll never --
SHORT: Because you don't know how far the investigation is going to veer. Right now he has no intentions of firing him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now near the president's resort in Florida is CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez. So, Boris, obviously a lot in the president's mind as he heads home.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. President Trump having a busy weekend on Twitter. As you noted, yesterday attacking former FBI Director James Comey, as well as the New York Times and Democrats. And today, he sort of sarcastically tweeted about the prospects of the Department of Justice opening an investigation into James Comey and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.
The president obviously feels that the Department of Justice is an extension of his political arm, and he has voiced frustration openly when they don't carry out his wishes whether it's Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation or the department being hesitant to open investigations into the president's political opponents as he has been vocal that he wants to see happen.
Marc Short wasn't the only Trump surrogate making the rounds on a Sunday morning talk shows, Kellyanne Conway was on CNN this morning and part of the conversation with her centered around the president's relationship with his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. As you know, Fred, that the New York Times published a report on Friday that indicated that historically, that's been a difficult relationship, six different sources cited in that report, said that the president had treated Cohen poorly in the past. Some of them describing that relationship as a one-way street that benefited the president. Kellyanne Conway pushed back on that, telling Dana Bash on State of the Union this morning that that was not the case.
Here is a clip from that conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He's defending someone who he's worked with and known for a dozen-plus years, Dana, who he thinks is being treated unfairly. I'm telling you that the president's concern has been for Michael Cohen and the way he's been treated. And he has said that again and again in tweets and again and again with the cameras rolling, with the media in the Cabinet Room and elsewhere.
And why is that? Because I see people go on T.V. constantly who don't know President Trump at all and say he's loyal to no one but himself. That is completely not true. He stands up for people in his inner circle and people he knows when he thinks they're being treated unfairly, and he's done it again and again. He shows a great sense of loyalty to people whom he thinks are being treated unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And Fred, even as the president is scheduled to have these meetings with foreign leaders whether it be with French President Emmanuel Macron or German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week, much of the focus will remain on his relationship with his personal attorney as that criminal case that Michael Cohen is involved in moves forward.
WHITFIELD: And also, Boris, you know, Trump, of course, is going to be watching these renewed talks between North and South Korea. so, did the president actually have a message before departing Florida for the White House on this?
[15:10:03] SANCHEZ: He did. Just as he was boarding Air Force One, reporters were shouting questions at him about that proposed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un. Here's a bit of that interaction captured by our cameras now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a message on North Korea, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very good, very good. It looks very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And shortly after Air Force One took off, the president actually tweeted saying that it's funny how all of the pundits that couldn't come close to striking a deal with North Korea were now sort of coaching him into making a deal. Earlier in the day the president seemed sort of aloof, still maintaining that it was possible that this deal, or rather that the summit would take place, not really fully committed to it. It seems that the president wants to press North Korea to agree to more conditions before that meeting takes place.
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you. It was Donald Trump's tweet saying, you know, funny how all the pundits that couldn't make a deal on North Korea are now all over the place telling me how to make a deal. Just underscoring word for word the message from the president via tweet on that.
All right, a lot on the president's plate this week. I'm joined now by CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist John Thomas. All right, good to see you both. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having us.
WHITFIELD: OK, so North Korea is going to be, you know, front and center in the summit with South Korea and then of course the planning for the president's potential summit but also on the mind of the president is Russia. He's the one who keeps calling more and more attention to that investigation. He tweeted again, you know, calling it a witchhunt. But the White House claims that he has no plans to fire the man overseeing that investigation, Rod Rosenstein.
So, Dave, do you believe that?
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's the president that keeps bringing this issue up, so I think we can't believe anything because Donald Trump is the ultimate shape shifter and he changes his mind on a whim almost every single day. He gives us political whiplash every week. So, it's unclear at this point. But the larger issue is, will he let this investigation move forward, and that's the big unknown.
WHITFIELD: All right, John?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Of course, the president is frustrated and he's responding, I think, to the wall-to- wall media coverage on the Russia investigation. But I think Rod Rosenstein bought himself some runway this week when he released some of the documents that the Republican have been asking for, and he told the president, according to the president, that he is not a target or subject of the Mueller investigation. So I think he's not in danger of being fired, but Rosenstein should produce the documents that the Republicans and Congress have been asking him to produce.
WHITFIELD: And so Dave, you know, the New York Times, you know, posted an article this weekend saying that Rod Rosenstein, you know, protecting, you know, the Rob Mueller investigation, that it could be costing the Justice Department some sort of political independence that it has always sought. Is that the problem here, or is that kind of the burr under the saddle, so to speak?
JACOBSON: Yes. Look, I think he's digging his heels and he's doing everything that he can to sort of preserve his status and protect the Bob Mueller investigation and that's a good thing, right? The Washington Post put out a poll just a week ago that showed 69 percent of Americans support the Russian investigation in getting all the facts. And in fact, on that note, 64 percent of Americans in that same poll support investigations into the Trump business, Trump Organization. And so I think Rod Rosenstein is doing everything that he can to sort of maintain the existing status. But I do agree with john, like he should be transparent and Congress is an equal branch of government like the White House, and so, he should be open and candid and share documents if they request it.
WHITFIELD: OK. So there's a lot. It's Russia, it's North Korea, it's, you know, the personal attorney, Michael Cohen, et cetera. And then on the New York Times today, you know, they focused on the embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, and the Times is reporting that before he actually took office, Pruitt used a shell company to purchase a home in Oklahoma from a lobbyist, but people in the president's inner circle say, despite the growing controversies, Pruitt isn't going anywhere. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHORT: Scott Pruitt is doing a phenomenal job and the president is happy with him.
TODD: Full confidence.
TODD: What would it take for him to lose confidence?
SHORT: Chuck, that's hypothetical so I don't know. Right now, Scott Pruitt is doing a great job at the EPA and we're happy to have him there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, John, do you want to a stab at a prediction what might happen?
THOMAS: Well, Scott Pruitt has been probably the most effective in driving Donald Trump's agenda with, you know, doing large amount of deregulation, so it would take a lot, multiple smoking guns, for the president to fire Pruitt. I think there should be investigation into it. If it turns out that Pruitt is, in fact, a bad actor and using multiple shell companies and doing things that are illegal, he should be fired. But until we have that proof, I don't think the president is going to do that.
[15:15:04] WHITFIELD: Dave?
JACOBSON: He reeks of corruption. This is a guy who has spent his career being bankrolled by big polluters who contribute to climate change. And he's capitalizing on his office in a very corrupt way. And when Donald Trump campaigned on a narrative of draining the swamp, this is illustrations of the precise opposite. He must be fired.
WHITFIELD: All right, Dave Jacobson, John Thomas, good to see you both. Thank you both so much.
JACOBSON: Thanks for having us.
WHITFIELD: All right, our top story. A more in it. A manhunt underway right now for a man who stormed into a Waffle House restaurant, killing four people. Police news conference is soon to get underway.
WHITFIELD: I want to take you straight to Nashville where right now the PIO, public information officer for Metro Nashville Police Department, Don Aaron, is speaking. Listen.
[15:20:07] DON AARON, METRO NASHVILLE POLICE SPOKESMAN: They were the first ones who were hit both fatally. Reinking then entered the restaurant and began shooting. As he was shooting, a patron of the restaurant, James Shaw Jr., ran to the restroom area of the Waffle House, saw that the shooting had stopped and saw an opportunity to intervene. Mr. Shaw wrestled the rifle away from Reinking and tossed it into another part of the restaurant to end the gunfire. Mr. Shaw saving, obviously, many lives in his heroic action.
Reinking entered the restaurant and got out of the truck, nude except for a green jacket. A block away from the Waffle House, or not even a block, he shed the green jacket and continued southbound on Murfreesboro Pike on foot. When we recovered that green jacket, there were two magazines containing AR-15 ammunition. He clearly came armed with a lot of fire power intending to devastate the South Nashville area.
The Police Department's Hazardous Devices Unit, the bomb squad, if you will, responded to the Waffle House to ensure that there were no explosives in Reinking's truck. The Police Department didn't search the truck until we were sure that it was safe. Once the bomb squad cleared the truck, we learned from paperwork inside that Reinking lived in a nearby apartment. The Police Department went to that apartment, the SWAT team, that apartment was cleared.
We are presently concerned about the evidence of two guns in that apartment that have not been located. There is a chance that Reinking at this moment is at large with two other weapons. At present, we believe that after Reinking left the Waffle House walking south on Murfreesboro Road, he went to his apartment, put on a pair of pants and then went to a wood line behind the apartment. According to a witness, a shirtless man fitting Reinking's description was seen in the wood line. A police helicopter and several police dogs attempted a track of Reinking. The dogs were tracking along the TBA power line, the power grid, until the dogs lost the track, but we think he has fled that immediate area on foot. At this point we do not know where he is.
Reinking is believed to have moved to Nashville in the fall of 2017. He worked in the crane or construction trade. We have learned from some sources that Reinking was fired about three weeks ago from one employer and recently applied for and received a job from another employer. According to that employer, Reinking worked on Monday of this week and did not return on Tuesday. They have not seen him since Monday. We have learned that Reinking was arrested by the United States Secret Service for being in a restricted area near the White House in July of 2017. He was subsequently released.
Reinking was later interviewed by Tazewell County, Illinois authorities and the FBI. His Illinois firearms authorization was revoked to our understanding at the request of the FBI and four weapons were seized by Tazewell County authorities. Among the weapons seized by those authorities was the AR-15 rifle used at the Waffle House today. The Police Department has received information that the guns were returned by Tazewell County authorities to Reinking's father who has now acknowledged giving them back to his son. As I said a moment ago, presently, two of the guns given to his son are unaccounted for. We have the AR-15 rifle recovered from the Waffle House this morning, there was also another rifle recovered by the SWAT team at his apartment early this afternoon.
Travis Reinking's whereabouts are presently unknown.
[15:25:01] Searches are on by law enforcement throughout the area, including our federal partners. Anyone seeing Reinking or knowing his whereabouts, please call the Nashville Police Department at 615-862- 8600, your local law enforcement agency or outside the immediate Middle Tennessee area, your local FBI office.
At this time, I would like to introduce Nashville Mayor David Briley.
MAYOR DAVID BRILEY, NASHVILLE: Thank you, Don. This morning our city woke up to tragic news. The fragility of life was brought home to us all by the deaths of four innocent Nashvilleans. On behalf of the city of Nashville, I want to say that our hearts goes out to all the victims and their families, and I ask that Nashville continue to pray and rally around them all.
Thanks go out to our first responders who have been working diligently since early this morning. I know that the Metro Police Department continues to work diligently to find this shooter and to apprehend him. Also this morning, I met and visited with Nashville's newest hero James Shaw Jr.
Thrown into crisis, he acted with courage. He told me he saw an opportunity and he took it. He saved lives. That is certain and we are all thankful to him for his bravery.
Tragedies like today shouldn't happen. It's been only seven months since we had another mass shooting here in Nashville, and that is far too frequent. We need comprehensive gun reform to address mass shootings, domestic shootings, accidental shootings and homicides. If we can all just come together for this and for the greater good, we can take these weapons of war off the streets of our country.
I know that we all want to live in a safe environment that allows everyone to go to work or school and feel and be safe. We all want to live up to our greatest potential. And it's my responsibility as the mayor of Nashville to try to make that happen.
Clearly, the victims of this shooting deserve our prayers and our thoughts, but they also deserve leaders who will step up and take action and do something to get these weapons off our streets. For a moment, let's be honest about what happened. Last night innocent Nashvilleans were terrorized by a man with an AR-15.
Let's be honest. Some people see these weapons as having a purpose of terrorizing other people. It's happening too much. Enough is enough. We asked James Shaw to visit with you today. Mr. Shaw, since the shooting, has been to church at Jefferson Street and he agreed to speak with you. What James is going to do is just tell you from his perspective, from his eyes, what he saw and what he did. Then after James speaks, there'll be other speakers, and at the end, we'll save the end for questions.
James, come on up.
JAMES SHAW JR., CREDITED WITH DISARMING GUNMAN AFTER DEADLY RAMPAGE: How's it going, everybody? So last night I went out with my best friend. We went to a club out in the Antioch area. We left the club at about 2:30-ish. We actually went to the Bell Road Waffle House first, but it was pretty packed in there, like two or three times what was in the Murfreesboro Road Waffle House.
So we left there, got some gas and then we went to the Murfreesboro Road Waffle House. Got there, I think, at about 3:17-ish.
[15:30:00] When we got out of our vehicles, we both saw the Gold Silverado, I actually saw the silhouette of his face, but you can't really just, you know, judge a person just off of that, so we proceeded in. We sat down at the high chairs, tabletops. I was sitting in, like, the first chair and my friend was sitting in, like, the third chair. We had a chair in between us. And we distinctively remember the cook.
The cook was actually washing dishes and he was stacking the plates up. And he was stacking them pretty high up on the hood to where we were like, those are going to fall off. Well, at the same time he was doing that, another Waffle House employee was actually about to go on his break, and I heard him say, I'm just going to go smoke a cigarette. I'll be right back.
So when we first heard what I know now as a gunshot, we thought it was plates crashing because we had pretty much made that up in our minds that the plates were going to fall. Then the second one happened and a third one happened. I think that's when the glass busted and broke through. Then I saw the Waffle House employees scatter.
Then I looked back and I saw a person laying on the ground right at the entrance of the door. So then I jumped, pretty much, and slid from the tabletop to the entrance of the door. And I think he let off some shots through the glass, and then he proceeded to come in. And then when he proceed to come in, I actually went behind -- there's like a push door, swivel door, and he shot through that door, I'm pretty sure, and I'm pretty sure he grazed my arm. And it was at that time I kind of made up my mind, because there's no way to lock that door, that if it was going to come down to it, he was going to have to work to kill me.
So, at the time that he was either reloading or the gun jammed or whatever happened is when I ran through the swivel door, and I hit him with the swivel door, and then the gun was kind of jammed up and it was pushed down, so we were scuffling. And I managed to get him with one hand on the gun, and then I grabbed it from him and threw it over the countertop. And then after that I was trying to get out the door, and I think he was pretty much in the entranceway, so I just took him out with me, out of the entrance and all the way outside, and then I proceeded to run around, and he had like a walk/trot pace type of jog that he was doing, trying to get away. And that's kind of what happened.
BRILEY: Now, Matt Espenshade, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI who heads the national office.
MATTHEW ESPENSHADE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being out here. I concur that it's a sad day for Nashville, but we tend to come together during these, and unfortunately we've had to do it a few times here. You know, I'm blessed to be in a profession that is tasked with protecting the people of our communities and our country, but I have to say today, James, thank you for taking that personal oath to protect your community and other people. You have earned a great deal of thanks from everyone in this room and everyone in our community. So thank you very much.
I'd just like to just say thank you also to the other law enforcement entities in this room, particularly Metro Police Department. They are outstanding when it comes to cooperating with law enforcement on the local, federal and state side to resolve these issues. And you have our oath that today, all we are thinking about, all we're working towards is coming to a resolution in this, finding the shooter, put him in custody and moving onto the next phases of investigation.
I've come with a prepared statement from the FBI and I'll read it to you and then we'll be available for questions later. This was stated by Mr. Aaron before, and I'll state it again.
[15:35:04] In July of 2017, the FBI's Springfield, Illinois Field Office received information regarding Travis Reinking from the U.S. Social Service. In coordination with the Secret Service and state and local law enforcement, the FBI took investigative steps to include database reviews and interviews. Coordinate action was taken with the Illinois State Police to revoke Mr. Reinking's prior arm owner's identification card and the Tazeville, County Sheriff's Office to then remove firearms from his possession.
After conducting all appropriate investigation, the FBI closed this assessment on Mr. Reinking in October of 2017. I feel confident the FBI took the appropriate steps and did everything within our federal jurisdiction that we could at the time. So thank you for your time.
BRILEY: Now, Todd Hudson, the special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service, Nashville Office.
TODD HUDSON, SECRET SERVICE SPECIAL AGENT: Good afternoon. Todd Hudson, special agent in charge with the Secret Service National Field Office. I would just like to echo the sentiments that have been stated already. Like my counterpart at the FBI, I have a prepared statement from Secret Service Headquarters.
Jeffrey Reinking has been identified by the Metro Nashville Police Department as a suspect in the shooting that occurred today in Antioch. Reinking became a record in the Secret Service following a July 7, 2017 arrest by the Secret Service Uniform Division. Officer -- Reinking was charged with unlawful entry after crossing the exterior security barrier near the White House complex. Information regarding their arrest was provided to our local law enforcement partners, including the FBI at the time of the arrest to ensure appropriate authorities were aware of the circumstances surrounding Reinking's arrest.
The Secret Service of Nashville Field Office and Secret Service Headquarters divisions are working closely with all law enforcement personnel on this investigation. Thank you.
BRILEY: And now Marcus Watson, the special agent in charge of ATF for the Tennessee and Alabama jurisdiction.
MARCUS WATSON, ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good afternoon. Sadly this morning my agents responded to assist our local partners in this investigation. Upon arrival, we were able to identify with the assistance of our local partners, Nashville POLICE Department, the firearm used in question, an AR-15. We initiate an urgent trace for that weapon. And we've identified when that weapon was illegally purchased in 2011 in Illinois. And we provided that information to the investigation.
We stand with our local and federal partners in this investigation. I've directed all of my resources available, including K-9, our (INAUDIBLE) intelligence center to support and offer all resources available to us to our partners to make sure that the suspect is found, found swiftly and he has his day in court. Thank you.
BRILEY: And now Walt Ehmer, the president and CEO of Waffle House.
WALT EHMER, WAFFLE HOUSE CEO: Good afternoon. I'm here to express our condolences to the victims and their families. It is a very sad day indeed for our Waffle House family of associates and customers who are impacted by this tragedy today.
All of our attention right now is focused on the victims and their families and our associates who were working that night and others who we're affected and knew the people who were working that night. And we're here to support them in any way we possibly can.
I personally want to thank Mr. Shaw. You don't get to meet many heroes in life, Mr. Shaw, but you are a hero. You are my hero. You saved peoples' lives, and I talked to some of those people you saved today and they will think of you for the rest of their days, as well I. We are forever in your debt and grateful for the courage you displayed, taking care of your fellow man. And so I thank you.
I also want to thank Mayor Briley, Chief Anderson and the brave men and women of the Metro Police Department who are working tirelessly out there at that scene today and searching for this man. And we will do anything we can to help and support your efforts in that regard. Thank you.
[15:40:02] BRILEY: Chief Anderson will now take your questions.
CHIEF STEVE ANDERSON, NASHVILLE POLICE: So let me say this is a collective effort for the Metropolitan National Police Department, Secret Service, FBI, ATF and also our partner at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Now, the search continues for Mr. Reinking and that search will continue until he is apprehended. So, collectively we'll take any questions that you might have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point with the investigation of the FBI and others, do you have any indication of a possible motive?
ANDERSON: We do not. We do not. We suspect some mental issues, but at this time there is no notes, no verbal explanations, so we don't have a motive at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know anything about when he was inside the building of him saying anything?
ANDERSON: I have not got a report of him saying anything at all.
ANDERSON: He does not here locally. He does not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a little confused about the Secret Service. When he was later interviewed in Illinois, was that related to do that incident?
ANDERSON: He was interviewed in Illinois in relation to -- he is being on the premises of the White House. And I'll let the Secret Service address that. But he was interviewed by the FBI there in Illinois and also the Sheriff's Department there in Illinois.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, did the father do anything wrong by (INAUDIBLE).
ANDERSON: You know, I don't know exactly what's the law is in Illinois. It's my understanding that the guns were surrendered to him and that's part of Illinois law because he could properly possess them. And -- so at some point he returned them to his son, so I don't know of any penalty there. But that's Illinois law, and I'm not familiar with that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, what was your reaction when you found out that information?
ANDERSON: Well, I think that, as the mayor pointed out, we have a crisis, and so you have people's rights to own weapons, but we got to look closely at people with mental issues and identify those people and make sure that weapons do not, at least legally, fall into their hands. And certainly I think that when you look across the country at any incident similar to this, that there's usually some mental issues involved. And so that's what we've got to work on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he on the radar in Nashville for anything prior that?
ANDERSON: To my knowledge, no. He had -- he's not arrested here and we were -- he had not done anything to make us aware of him being on our radar in any manner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because you said (INAUDIBLE) he has two of those weapons left. What are those guns and do you think he could possibly have more other than (INAUDIBLE)?
ANDERSON: Well, we know of four weapons, four distinct weapons that he had in his possession at one time. So, two of those weapons are accounted for. Two are not. Where they are, does he have them, did he discard them in the past? We don't know.
And then, you have to take into account there could be other weapons in addition to those four that he's come into possession of that we do not know about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the guns, please?
ANDERSON: One is a long gun, a rifle, and the one is a handgun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that an assault-type rifle?
ANDERSON: The rifle is a long gun. It would be more of a hunting rifle than an assault rifle.
ANDERSON: The family is in Illinois and we have not talked with them with our detectives, but authorities in Illinois have talked with the family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have police visited his residence at all here in Nashville?
ANDERSON: To my knowledge, no. We were not aware of him. He had not created any incident that brought him to our attention.
ANDERSON: Yes sir.
ANDERSON: Well, you know, I think in this day and age, when you have the internet at our disposal, there is always that possibility. So we'll work with you. I'd take into precautions. But that's the danger of our society in this day and time. The internet, social media is a valuable tool that everybody uses, but on the other hand, it invades the privacy of most all of us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A word about Mr. Shaw and the action he took today.
[12:45:02] ANDERSON: You know, I don't have words for that. It's beyond belief that he could charge that man and take that weapon from him. So I applaud him. It was a very brave thing to do.
And as you heard, he saved lives. So I don't really have words to describe it. It's beyond anything that I could say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How concerned are you that this man was able to slip through the cracks? He had been on the radar of the FBI, he had had previous encounters with police. How concerned are you about that?
ANDERSON: Well, you know, it is somewhat concerned. And, you know, you balance the rights of people to have their privacy, but on the other hand, there needs to be a coordinated effort, especially in terms of mental health issues, to ensure that weapons do not fall into their hands, at least lawfully.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And lawfully, these weapons were not in his hands lawfully.
ANDERSON: They were not. They were not. And let me qualify that. They would not have been lawfully in his hands in Illinois. Now, possession in Tennessee, I don't know that any -- I don't know that he would have violated any Tennessee law.
ANDERSON: Patrons, patrons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So one in Florida.
ANDERSON: One in Florida.
ANDERSON: No. We don't have any thing that connects any of the victims except, you know, they're being in that location to have a meal. And of course, the employee that was working there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we get some clarity on that whether he -- it would been illegal to have these weapons in Illinois, but if he was -- within his rights to have the weapons in Tennessee?
ANDERSON: Well, again, I'm speaking about Illinois law which I'm not familiar with. But apparently, the sheriff seized those guns. So apparently he could not lawfully possess them in Illinois. Apparently in Illinois, you have to have a license so to speak to possess guns. His was revoked.
But under Illinois law, as it has been explained to me, those guns can be released to a family member or other person that does have that proper license. So that was done. And then somewhere, between the time they were released and today, the son obtained possession of those weapons. I don't know of any law in Tennessee that he would have violated, no.
Again, I have not researched that, but I'm not aware of anything that would have precluded him possessing those weapons. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, do you know why the guns were seized in the first place? Was this as a result of what happened outside the White House or (INAUDIBLE)?
WHITFIELD: All right, you're listening to the police chief for the Metro Nashville Police Department there, Steve Anderson, and he's explaining a sequence of events. We've heard a few versions now coming from a variation of authorities there. But right now, many hours after an early morning deadly shooting taking place at that Waffle House in the Nashville area, now a manhunt is underway for a young man identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking who officials say may be in possession of two more weapons.
It is understood that throughout the evening, and you heard the sequence of events that, this Reinking then went to that Waffle House using an AR-15 and unloaded there. Four people killed, many others injured. But as a result of the heroic efforts of a James Shaw who also appeared in that press conference, he was someone who was there as a patron in the restaurant, went to the restroom, it appears as though there was silence and then he said to himself that he was going to have to work hard, meaning the gunman, to kill him.
This young man right here, you see there he got an injury on the elbow when he came out of the bathroom. He tackled Reinking and he was able to toss that AR-15 across the counter, and that struggle then wrestling went outside of the restaurant. But then Reinking then was able to get away and now he has been described as only, at the time, wearing a jacket. He discarded that jacket, but police say he just might be on the run with two other weapons because they have gone to his apartment and they noticed that there were containers or casings of some sort that would indicate two other weapons were missing. You heard the police chief says that he believe there was a long barrel rifle, perhaps a hunting rifle, and a handgun.
All right, with me now, James Gagliano, law enforcement analyst. There was a lot in the press conference.
[15:50:00] One thing that really stood out as well, Reinking caught the attention of the Secret Service back in July of 2017 because of being in a restricted area. And as a result, they were able to track him down in his residence in Illinois, James. They were able to revoke his firearms license and take away the AR-15. But then, somewhere in the amount of time between that July, you know, 2017 and today, the father may have returned that AR-15 back to Reinking and police believe that AR-15 is what may have been used in this attack at the Waffle House overnight.
So, James, give me your thoughts on all of this. Where the investigation is now, the manhunt underway and what we've learned about this suspect.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, first of all, Fred, a lot to unpack from that press conference and I could almost feel the palpable frustration in the voice of the Nashville police chief. I mean, obviously, they -- they're struggling with -- again, we have what appears to be a mentally unstable person that law enforcement had done the right thing, that had run this lead down and had interviewed him and they'd actually confiscated his weapons. And then, the next thing you know the weapons were returned to a family member and then the family member elects to either give them back to the subject or to leave them in a position where the subject could get their hands on them.
I think right now, from the law enforcement perspective, having been involved in numerous manhunts throughout my FBI career, I can tell you this is one of the most dangerous things that law enforcement officials have to do. You are essentially hunting an armed man, and it's not a situation where you have a static crisis site where you have a building, where you have a barricaded subject, you can put a perimeter around it.
You know, if there's one or two or three of them, we can bring a hundred of us. And it's in a secure location, meaning, you can mover civilians out of the way. You can make sure that that place that there's no egress routes where the bad guy can get away. In this instance, you're basically trying to -- like hunting deer, you're trying to track down a person who's obviously fled the scene of this shooting that left four people killed.
It's very dangerous for law enforcement, and equally dangerous for folks that live in the immediate area because a person like this could, you know, break into a home, could carjack somebody or something like that.
So, the evidence collection, all the things that we would do to put together case after the fact, those were all secondary right now. Right now, tactical resolution is the number one job for law enforcement. It is to get to this individual and interdict him, either bring him to justice by arresting him or, you know, (INAUDIBLE) with the police officers to make sure that their rounds are true and accurate and take this person out. He's already killed four people and no telling what else he could do if he gets into a neighborhood or gets into an area where there's an unarmed civilians.
WHITFIELD: And you underscore this thing is taking place simultaneously. The evidence collection, but at the same time, the man hunt underway, really flooding the market in that area, with a description, this mug shot, photograph of Travis Reinking, 29-years- old. But while they are able to describe, based on eyewitness accounts, what he looked like, his demeanor at the time of the shooting, a lot of time has elapsed, and it's unclear exactly, you know, what kind of clothing he might be in, whether he may have stolen a vehicle perhaps, whether he is in hiding.
I mean, talk to me about how this further complicates the manhunt, at the same time authorities are trying to impress upon people to be careful, be wary.
GAGLIANO: Sure. So, obviously the first thing is to get to this subject immediately and disarm him and take him into custody. That is preeminent right now in law enforcement minds and in their efforts. And what they would do is, is try to figure out the length or the size of the perimeter that needs to be put out. So, you know, you can't just think that he's on foot, you can't just assume that he's in a vehicle, you have to think that any of those things are possible. He could have stolen a vehicle, he could had a vehicle that he was in originally and then bails out of that and has another vehicle to get away in. So, you got to basically keep all those things on the table.
While you're doing that, simultaneously, folks are now going to through and seeing what type digital tool this person left behind. You know, was the laptop in social media. Did he post any (INAUDIBLE) on a blog site? What about his cell usage? You know, what's his cellphone number? Whose he called recently?
Another think to be concerned about is accomplices. You cannot just assumed that this was somebody that acted alone just because he was the only one inside the Waffle House that appears to have been doing the shooting. We always assume that there are accomplices until proven otherwise.
And then you got to -- at some point, look at motivations too.
[15:55:02] The thing that jumped out at me as I looked at the four victims on the list, you know, I don't know if there was any familial relations there, I mean, nobody seem to have the same last name. But the only thing, the only thread that seem to be consistent, they were all in their early 20s.
WHITFIELD: Yes, early 20s.
GAGLIANO: Now, were these targeted shootings or is this just the targets of opportunity. And that's the thing that police have to get to. That's important because it'll help understand where he maybe going and who he maybe meeting with afterwards.
WHITFIELD: All right, Law Enforcement Analyst James Gagliano, thank you so much. We'll check with you again as we get more information in the live manhunt underway.
Meantime, not enough can be said about the heroic efforts of that young man, James Shaw who took down the gunman before the gunman then fled on foot.
We'll continue to follow the developments out of the Nashville, Tennessee are. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
The breaking news this hour, a manhunt is still underway in Tennessee following a deadly shooting this morning at a Waffle House restaurant.