Waffle House shooting victims remembered
One by one, family members took the stand Saturday to commemorate the four people killed by a violent burst of gunfire at a Nashville Waffle House.
- At a sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking, they described searing, almost unbearable pain that began after the mass shooting on April 22, 2018.
Driving the news: Reinking was convicted Friday of first-degree murder for the deaths of Akilah DaSilva, 23; DeEbony Groves, 21; Joe Perez, 20; and Taurean Sanderlin, 29.
- On Saturday, after hours of wrenching family testimony, the jury sentenced him to life without parole.
The latest: Family members said they were relieved to put the criminal case behind them. But their testimony made it clear that Reinking's conviction was not an ending.
What they're saying: Shaundelle Brooks said her family was "forever broken" after her son Akilah DaSilva died that night.
- She remembers rushing to the scene and being blinded by the police lights. She saw her son's shoes through open ambulance doors and called out. He didn't answer.
- "The pain is so great that some days I'm not sure I can even open my eyes."
Akilah's brother, Abede, was with him at the Waffle House. The victim's last words to his brother were, "I can't breathe."
- "My family has joined this informal and sadly growing club of gun violence survivors," Brooks said. "The members of this club are the only ones who truly understand the never-ending pain, the unbearable loss, the trauma that we relive over and over."
What's next: Reinking, 33, will receive additional penalties at a later date for attempted murder and weapons charges.
Meanwhile, Brooks said her family would focus on preserving her son's memory. They started a foundation in his name.
- "I have dedicated my life to preventing gun violence," Brooks said. "I want to do whatever I can to prevent another mother from having to bury her children, from having to wake up every day with a broken heart."
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