NASHVILLE  — Four people were killed in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee early Sunday, according to police, who credited a bystander with saving "many lives" by wrestling a weapon away from the gunman.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department says the gunman was a white man with short hair who was wearing only black pants and a coat. A customer at the restaurant took the gun from the shooter, who then took off his coat and fled the area.

Police said via their Twitter account that authorities are searching for 29-year-old Travis Reinking of Morton, Illinois. They said they named him as a person of interest because the car that the gunman arrived in was registered to him.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said three people died at the scene and one person died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Aaron said the suspect arrived at the restaurant in a pickup truck and sat in the parking lot for four minutes, shot two people with an assault rifle in the parking lot, then went inside and continued firing.

A 29-year-old male patron inside the restaurant wrestled the rifle away from the suspect and tossed it over a counter, Aaron said.

"No doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and tossing it over the counter and prompting the man to leave," Aaron said.

At least four people were injured.

A Waffle House spokesman didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Aaron said the victims' names weren't immediately released.

The suspect, wearing only a green jacket, shed the jacket after fleeing the restaurant. Aaron said he lived at an apartment complex in the area and, based on witness reports, went to the complex and put on a pair of pants.

Aaron said witnesses saw a man in a nearby wooded area, and police dogs were tracking the man, some six hours after the 3:25 a.m. shooting.

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