Waffle House CEO Speaks At Shooting Victim’s Funeral, Said She Sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ As She Died

CEO Walt Ehmer said that the Tennessee community has strong faith and that he knows they will survive this tragic event.

Waffle House restaurant
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CEO Walt Ehmer said that the Tennessee community has strong faith and that he knows they will survive this tragic event.

Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer attended the funeral of a customer who, along with three other people including a restaurant employee, was fatally shot by a lone gunman last Sunday morning. CNN reported that DeEbony Groves was laid to rest on April 28 after being shot. When addressing the congregation who had gathered to pay their last respects, Ehmer recalled what the survivors told him about the 21-year-old woman’s final words.

Groves apparently made quite an impression on those who were dining in the Nashville restaurant in the wee hours of April 22. Ehmer said that in her final moments, the young woman reflected on her faith and sang gospel songs until she took her last breath.

“And (they) spoke of your daughter and her friend, and said they were singing gospel songs,” Ehmer said. “And everybody was singing and enjoying each other and she said, ‘The last thing I remember her saying was, singing Jesus Loves Me.'”

The Belmont University senior was dining with her friend, Akilah DaSilva, after being out socializing with her sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta. DaSilva, along with Joe R. Perez and Taurean C. Sanderlin, were all murdered. Sanderlin was a Waffle House employee and Ehmer planned to attend his funeral soon after the Groves service the same day.

Four people killed at Waffle House
  Jason Davis / Getty Images

Ehmer said that he could offer nothing in the way of solace to the family after such a tragic loss, but the Waffle House family was hurting for them and with them. He acknowledged that the community is strong in its faith and that he believed the Groves family to be no different.

After a widespread manhunt, police believe they have taken the shooter into custody. Travis Reinking was arrested and charged with four counts of criminal homicide, four counts of attempted murder, and one count of unlawful gun possession in the commission of a violent felony, CNN reported.

The 29-year-old is said to have a history of mental illness with prior arrests including one for trespassing at the White House. Reinking allegedly went on his killing spree at the Waffle House wearing nothing more than a coat.

James Shaw Jr. was struck by a bullet while he hid from the gunman in the hallway that led to the restaurant’s bathrooms. He decided, at that moment, that his only chance for survival was to go on the offensive. When he believed that the shooter had stopped to reload his weapon, Shaw charged at him and wrestled the gun away from him. He tossed the gun behind the bar and then fled to safety.

Authorities said that Reinking went home, put on a pair of pants, and then went on the run from police. Some 35 hours later, a woman saw Reinking near a construction site in Antioch and alerted authorities.