Father of Waffle House shooting suspect faces weapons charge

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Police tape blocks off a Waffle House restaurant Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. At least four people died after a gunman opened fire at the restaurant early Sunday.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

PEKIN, Ill. — The father of a man accused of killing four people at a Waffle House in Tennessee last year has been charged with unlawful delivery of a firearm in Illinois, a prosecutor announced Thursday.

State’s Attorney Stewart J. Umholtz said Jeffrey Reinking was charged in Tazewell County Circuit Court.

Reinking’s son, Travis Reinking, has been held without bond on first-degree murder charges since the April 2018 attack in Nashville. Authorities said Reinking was wearing only a green jacket when he opened fire at the restaurant with an assault-style rifle. Police credited a quick-thinking patron with wrestling the rifle away from the gunman and likely preventing more deaths.

Jeffrey Reinking, 55, is accused of knowingly giving an AR-15 rifle to 30-year-old Travis, despite his son having been a patient in the mental health unit of a Peoria, Illinois, hospital.

“Mass shootings have raised public awareness regarding the need to keep firearms out of the hands of persons afflicted with mental illness,” Umholtz said, noting that doing so in Illinois is a criminal offense. “While I strongly support citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment, I also strongly support holding individuals accountable for the commission of criminal offenses related to firearms.”

The older Reinking has posted bond and is scheduled for arraignment on April 25. He faces up to three years in prison and a fine, if convicted. Telephone calls to his lawyer weren’t immediately returned.

After being charged, Travis Reinking was ordered to receive treatment for schizophrenia at a mental health facility and in October was deemed fit for trial.

At one time, Travis Reinking sent text messages to his father in which he punctuated everyday chitchat with delusional rants.

The texts, filed as evidence in December in a federal lawsuit against Jeffrey Reinking, included discussion about work and meals. But the son also wrote his phone was being hacked and people were trying to kill him. Travis Reinking also accused his father of being involved, writing in 2017, “If your helping them, please stop no matter what it cost you.”

Travis Reinking was a onetime crane operator who moved across multiple states and suffered from delusions, sometimes talking about plans to marry singer Taylor Swift, friends and relatives told authorities. He was detained by the Secret Service in July 2017 after venturing into a forbidden area on the White House grounds and demanding to meet President Donald Trump.

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