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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nearly four years after the 2018 Antioch Waffle House Shooting, the trial for the gunman is finally underway. Four people were killed — DeEbony Groves, 21, Akilah Dasilva, 23, Taurean Sanderlin, 29, and Joe Perez, 20. Four others were injured.
Many Antioch community members said the trial marks the first step of healing in their community.
“We talk about it because it happened in our community, you know, so a lot of people have thoughts about it when we drive by, it’s like, ‘oh, that’s where the shooting happened,’” said Samira Hardcastle, who lives in Antioch and worked as a middle school teacher.
After claiming the lives of four people, tensions remain even after the accused shooter, Travis Reinking, was taken into custody.
Reinking was indicted on 16 counts, including four counts of premeditated first-degree murder. His trial was delayed several months while he was treated for schizophrenia and was cleared to once again stand trial.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any question that he didn’t do it; I think the question is what was his state of mind when he did do it,” attorney and former prosecutor Jim Todd said.
That question could be key in determining the outcome of the court case.
“In Tennessee, not unlike many other states, the state has the burden of proving the elements of the crime as well as the person’s mental state while doing it. And if you can’t intentionally or knowingly or recklessly do something because of your mental state, then you’re not guilty of the crime,” Todd said.
Although it’s far too early to know what the outcome of the 2018 Waffle House shooting trial will be, those who remember the event said it’s been a long time coming for their community.
“It was really eye-opening. It made us more cautious around who we’re around and what we do, and people didn’t go out for a while after that,” Hardcastle said. “And so it’s relieving, honestly, to have closure and so I hope that justice is served.”
District 28 Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher released the following statement to News 2:
“This trial aids in bringing closure to the judicial process but our community wound is still healing-this trial also brings a reliving of not only that terrible day but the fragility of our city’s public safety response.
For those of us that live in the Antioch/Southeast community and frequent our restaurants and businesses, the shooting forever changed the fabric of our community. We forever remember and will never forget the survivors, the families and their losses-we will forever say their names DeEbony Graves, Akilah DaSilva, Joe Perez, and Taurean Sanderlin. Remember. Say Their Names.”