Waffle House shooting: Father of suspect Travis Reinking previously took away son’s guns

Tennessean – by Dave Boucher

The 29-year-old Illinois man accused of carrying out a fatal shooting Sunday morning at an Antioch Waffle House previously had weapons removed from his possession after a 2017 arrest near the White House.

Newly obtained Illinois police records also show the suspected shooter thought he was being stalked by Taylor Swift and had previously threatened people with an AR-15 rifle.  

Travis Reinking opened fire early Sunday morning at the Waffle House, killing at least four people, Nashville police say. At least four others were injured.

In July 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking for being in a “restricted area” near the White House, according to the Secret Service.

“He wanted to set up a meeting with the president,” said Secret Service representative Todd Hudson.

After the arrest, his Illinois firearms authorization was revoked and local Illinois authorities seized four weapons.

“Among the weapons seized by those authorities was the AR-15 rifle used at the Waffle House today,” said Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

On Aug. 24, 2017, sheriffs deputies in Tazewell County, Illinois took a state-issued card from Reinking that Illinois requires for someone to own a weapon. During a Sunday news conference streamed online, Tazewell County Sheriff Robert M. Huston said Reinking volunteered to give up his four weapons.

However, Reinking’s father was present when those deputies came to confiscate the guns, Huston said. The father had a valid state authorization card and asked the police if he could keep the weapons. Deputies gave Reinking’s father the weapons,  Huston said.

“He was allowed to do that after he assured deputies he would keep them secure and away from Travis,” Huston said, referring to Reinking’s father.

Huston and Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said they believe Reinking’s father returned the weapons to Reinking.

Anderson said he believes under Illinois law, guns seized can be returned to someone who has a valid state authorization.

Anderson said he was not immediately aware of any Tennessee law Reinking would have violated by possessing guns in Nashville.

This is not the first time Reinking’s father returned weapons to his son after concerns about Reinking’s state of mind.

Reinking had previously threatened someone with an AR-15, records show

In May 2016, the Tazewell Sheriff’s Office responded to a call involving Reinking, according to police reports obtained by the Peoria Journal Star. Reinking told law enforcement he thought Swift was stalking him. Law enforcement took Reinking to a local hospital for an evaluation.

In June 2017, police records state Reinking threatened someone with an AR-15 while wearing a pink dress. After threatening the man, Reinking drove to a public pool and dove in before exposing himself to others at the pool, according to the reports.

When police contacted Reinking’s father, the father said “awhile back he took 3 rifles and a hand gun away and locked them up when Travis was having problems. (The father) wanted to move out of state so he gave them back to (Travis)…” the reports state.

Police told Reinking’s father “he might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets mental help which he stated he would.”

The next month, Reinking was arrested at the White House.

In early August, Reinking again told local law enforcement he thought he was a victim of hacking and that people were trying to get him to break the law. Later in the month, police came to take away Reinking’s gun, the Illinois records show.

“(Reinking’s father) was advised that he needed to keep the weapons secure and away from Travis. (Reinking’s father) stated he would comply,” reads a police report.

Police continue search for Reinking

Reinking may still have one weapon as police continue their manhunt late Sunday, Aaron said.

Police say Reinking fired a rifle through the windows of the Waffle House before entering the restaurant and continued firing.

The suspect fled the scene wearing no clothes, dropping a green coat he had worn during the shooting, police say.

Reinking was later seen wearing black pants but no shirt, police said.

Morton is a small town of 16,000 in Central Illinois about 400 miles north of Nashville. An Illinois television station reported Sunday the FBI is at a home in Morton that is registered to Reinking.

Aaron said Reinking moved to the Nashville area in fall 2017. He worked in the crane and construction trade, but he may have been recently fired from a job, Aaron said.

This is a developing story. Check Tennessean.com for more information as it becomes available. 

Reach Dave Boucher at 615-259-8892, dboucher@tennessean.com and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1. 


12 thoughts on “Waffle House shooting: Father of suspect Travis Reinking previously took away son’s guns

  1. I guess it had nothing to do with pancakes….BUT…. this story will further their “high risk protection order” agenda, and we’ll see it expand to more states, or nationally after this.

    1. I wonder how long it will be before we hear that charges have been filed against the father for giving the guns back to him.

      1. Actually, Angel, I think that was legal, because they were taken in Illinois, and returned in Tennessee. (which may be the argument for making it a federal law)

        How are those ribs doing?

        1. The pain meds from the VA FINALLY came last week. They’ve helped a lot. Their generic BenGay and Ibuprofen weren’t cutting it. My challenge now is forgetting and trying to do too much. At least I can breath, laugh, lift my arm… Doing MUCH better. Just have to take it slow and give it time.

          1. Yes… time heals all wounds. I re-injure myself a lot by thinking I’m healed before I am.

            Be patient for a full and speedy recovery.

      2. I saw this coming…
        “A federal official says the father of the man suspected of fatally shooting four at a Nashville Waffle House could face charges for returning guns that were taken from him after an incident last year at the White House.
        Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Marcus Watson said at a news conference Monday that Jeffrey Reinking’s act of returning the guns to his son is ‘potentially a violation of federal law.” ”

  2. These waffle houses are tiny inside, must have been a nightmare, these establishments are no bigger than a high school classroom. If that.

    4 or 5 at the counter and maybe ten tables. TINY and cramped.

  3. “In July 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking for being in a “restricted area” near the White House, according to the Secret Service.

    “He wanted to set up a meeting with the president,” said Secret Service representative Todd Hudson.”

    Okay, even tweakers rarely get that far gone.

    I’m leaning towards Big Pharma on this one.

  4. Wonder if the Taylor Swift harassment might’ve been LRAD being used on him by TPTB. Who shoots up anything naked??? Perhaps he was dosed too

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.