The man who is charged with murdering four people and injuring others in a Tennessee Waffle House pleaded not guilty to 17 murder and weapons counts, authorities said.
Travis Reinking, 30, is accused of opening fire with an assault rifle last April and then fleeing the scene naked. He was arrested after an intense, 36-hour manhunt.
Although family members of the victims were in court, Reinking waived his right to appear at his arraignment on Wednesday and his public defender, Jon Wing, entered the not guilty plea, according to Steve Hayslip, spokesman for the Office of the District Attorney in Nashville, according to Rawstory.
Reinking is charged in the April 22 deaths of Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29; Joe R. Perez, 20; DeEbony Groves, 21; and Akilah DaSilva, 23.
He was stopped from doing further damage by James Shaw Jr., who wrestled the AR-15 out of Reinking’s arms. The gun’s hot metal also seared his skin and burned him. Shaw pushed Reinking outside of the restaurant and then got out of harm’s way.
A Davidson County grand jury previously charged Reinking with four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of premeditated first-degree murder, four counts of attempted first-degree murder and five weapons-related charges, according to Rawstory.
The grand jury’s indictment this month came after mental health professionals spent months evaluating Reinking before determining that he was competent to stand trial. Even still, Legal experts have said an insanity defense is possible in the case. That would focus on Reinking’s mental state at the time of the shooting.
Four survivors of the shooting are expected to testify for the state.
After the plea was entered, family members of the victims spoke to reporters with The Tennessean.
“Progress is in the making and that does my heart good,” Groves’ mother, Shirl Baker, told The Tennessean outside the courtroom. “The weight is still heavy. This loss is still heavy, but we’re enduring.”
Added DaSilva’s mother, Shaundelle Brooks, according to the newspaper: “I’m just happy to be moving forward… to reach justice for our children.”