This Is What We Know About The Suspected Waffle House Gunman


Police are still searching for a 29-year-old suspect in a shooting that killed four people and wounded two others at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, early Sunday morning.

Authorities have identified the suspect as Travis Reinking, and say that he sat in his pick up truck outside the Waffle House around 3:30 a.m. Sunday before he took his AR-15 and, naked except for a jacket, opened fire on workers and diners before fleeing on foot.

As the frantic manhunt for Reinking continued into the night Sunday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added his name to its “Top 10 Most Wanted” list, warning the public that he should be considered “armed and dangerous.

“There is a chance that Reinking at this moment is at large with two other weapons,” Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said Sunday as more than 80 officers, bolstered by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, continued to canvass the area.

The 29-year-old is from Morton, Illinois, and lived in Salida, Colorado, before moving to the Nashville area, where he worked in the construction and craning industry, police said Sunday.

Previous reports from near his Illinois home describe a distressed, anxious, and volatile young man who, in one instance, waved his AR-15 at a co-worker before storming out. Reinking’s father, who was supposed to be keeping his son’s weapons away from him, had told police that he often locked up his son’s rifles when “Travis was having problems.”

Months before the shooting in Tennessee, Reinking was arrested in Washington DC, after the Secret Service caught him trying to access a restricted area of the White House, prompting police in his home state of Illinois to seize his guns.

According to a DC police report, Reinking told the Secret Service that he was trying to speak to President Donald Trump. After refusing to leave and ignoring an officer’s warning, the report says Reinking declared that he “was a sovereign citizen and has a right to inspect the grounds.”

He then took off his tie, balled it into a fist, and walked past the security barriers toward police, stating, “Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have too,” according to the report.

Reinking was taken into custody and charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, on July 8 2017. His case was dismissed a few months later, in November, after he completed a diversion program for first-time offenders and the required community service, DC court records show.

Due to his arrest, Illinois authorities, at the request of the FBI, confiscated his weapons and revoked a state identification card given to firearms’ owners, officials said. The Tazewell County Sheriff’s office said Sunday that they removed four guns from Reinking’s home in August, but gave the weapons to Reinking’s father, Jeffrey Reinking, an authorized gun owner, at the elder Reinking’s request.

At some point, Reinking’s father gave the weapons back to his son, including the AR-15 that police said was used in Sunday’s attack.

A Tazewell County Sheriff report from August 24, 2017, documented the confiscation of a Kimber 9mm hand gun, a Bushmaster Ar15, a CZ-USA .22-caliber rifle, a Remington 710, and some ammunition.

“The weapons and ammo were released to Jeffrey Reinking, which holds a valid FOID [Firearm Owners Identification] card. Jeffrey was advised that he needed to keep the weapons secure and away from Travis,” an officer noted in the report. “Jeffrey stated he would comply.”

Calls to a phone number listed to a Jeffrey Reinking in Illinois went unanswered Sunday night.

Authorities said the weapon, which was heroically wrestled away from Travis Reinking by a Waffle House customer, was legally purchased in Illinois, although it is not clear whether it was legal for the suspect to possess the gun in Tennessee. Officials also discovered another rifle after raiding his apartment near Nashville Sunday.

Investigation on going at the Waffle House. Scene being processed by MNPD experts. This is the rifle used by the gunman. https://t.co/lihhRImHQN

In a press conference Sunday, Tazewell County Sheriff Bob Huston said Reinking had previously had multiple, concerning run-ins with local police, and described the 29-year-old as an erratic, anxious man who heard voices and believed people were stalking him.

After officials confiscated the guns last summer, Huston said, Reinking’s father had promised he would not return the guns to his son.

“The police reports speak for themselves. I think anyone can conclude after reading them that there’s evidence [Reinking] has mental health issues,” Huston said, before releasing Reinking’s police records to local media.

One report documents a May 2016 incident in a CVS parking lot, which officers described as a “suicide attempt by firearms.” Officers wrote that during that incident, a “delusional” Reinking was agitated and upset because he believed Taylor Swift was harassing and stalking him and had backed his phone.

The then-27-year-old believed everyone, including “his own family and police,” are involved, the report states. His parents and grandmother were also in the parking lot and told officials that Reinking had been having the delusions since August 2014 and had made “comments about killing himself earlier in the day.” An emergency responder from Tazwood Mental Health Center was also at the scene, trying to convince Reinking to come in for an evaluation, officers said.

After driving away and then returning, Reinking told responding officials that a few weeks prior, Taylor Swift had hacked his Netflix account and told him to meet her at a local Dairy Queen. According to the police report documenting his account, Reinking said that when he arrived, “she started yelling at him before she took off running” and that he “chased her in an attempt to get her to stop harassing him.”

“Taylor climbed up the side of the building and Travis followed. However, when he reached the rooftop, she was gone,” the report states.

After the May 2016 incident, Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation, but told officers it was “against his will.”

According to another police report, Reinking raised similar concerns about people stalking him in August 2017, when he pulled up to a sheriff’s deputy and said that he wanted to make a report. He then claimed that 20 to 30 people had hacked his phone and computer, that he was being watched, and that he had been hearing people outside his home “barking like dogs.”

As the conversation progressed, the report states, a “serious and concerned” Reinking told the officers that a man at Target had been watching him as he checked out.

“Travis said he observed a male in a black shirt with an ear mic standing near watching him. Travis said he felt that this male was watching him and no one else,” officer Ryan Tarby wrote. “Travis explained that this all started after he started writing Taylor Swift.”

Earlier that summer, in June 2017, police in Tremont, Illinois, responded to a disturbance at a pool after Reinking arrived wearing a pink woman’s house coat, jumped in the water, removed the coat, and swam in his underwear. He later exposed himself.

“I was told that the male had gotten out of the pool and was yelling…that he was a man. I was told that he then showed his genitals saying that he was a man,” Tremont police officer Mike Dodwell wrote in his report.

After the incident, an employee at a company owned by Reinking’s family, J&J Cranes, told police that he “had a yelling match with Travis,” who had been living above the business.

The employee said that Reinking, decked in the pink coat and “holding the AR rifle,” had yelled “is this what you fucking want” before storming out and putting the gun in the trunk of his car and speeding away.

Officers did not find any weapons on Reinking when they confronted him after the incident, according to the report, which also notes that Reinking had a valid firearm owners card at the time. Police also contacted his father, who told them that “awhile back he took 3 rifles and a hand gun away and locked them up when Travis was having problems,” but that he had returned the guns to his son after moving out of state.

Court records from Tazewell County also show that Reinking incurred at least 13 traffic violations between 2005 to 2013, for infractions like expired registration, not wearing his seat belt, having alcohol in the front seat, and driving with an invalid license.

On Reinking’s Facebook page, which appeared to have been scrubbed Sunday except for a few profile photo updates and two posts from 2017, the 29-year-old shared a YouTube video titled, “Illuminati compilation clips 100% real,” and wrote, “The illuminati is real.” YouTube has since removed the video, explaining that it violated the platform’s policy on harassment and bullying.

Reinking also appears to have a YouTube page with an active live stream. The last time he went live was May 6, 2017, according to the site.

Local media in Illinois reported that Morton residents who knew Reinking and his family were stunned, describing them as “such good people.”

“He sure had the upbringing and I feel sorry for them more than anything. They are such good people,” Roland McDuff, told Central Illinois Proud, saying that he lived near the family and had used their crane company,

Reinking reportedly worked for his parents’ business before moving away, though he appears to have continued to work in the industry while living in Tennessee.

Police have not yet identified a motive for the shooting, and said Sunday that it was not clear why Reinking allegedly chose the Waffle House as his target.

“We suspect some mental issues, but at this time there’s no notes, no verbal explanations, so we don’t have a motive at this time,” Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a press conference Sunday. “He’s murdered four times with no apparent reason and no apparent motive. So we’re very concerned.”

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