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People like Travis Reinking should not have access to firearms

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018

* NBC

The man accused of killing four people in a Nashville Waffle House used to send his father text messages in which he punctuated everyday chitchat with delusional rants.

Police say 29-year-old Travis Reinking was nearly naked, only wearing a green jacket, when he opened fire outside the restaurant on April 22 and then stormed inside. Police have said there would have been far more casualties if it weren’t for a quick-thinking restaurant patron who wrestled the AR-15 rifle away from the gunman.

By the time of the shooting, Reinking’s erratic behavior had already come to the attention of law enforcement, including the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois, where he lived part-time.

According to several incident reports, Reinking believed the singer Taylor Swift was stalking and harassing him, including hacking into his computer and phone. He believed the police and his family were part of the conspiracy, and his delusions went back to at least August 2014.

* Text message from May 21, 2017

“These people are still listening and reading stuff on my phone over the internet,” he wrote. Then, “I don’t want to be told gay things inadvertently when I’m trying to learn about something else, and they have been saying stupid stuff like I’m a transsexual, and things like that.”

* May 23, 2017

“These people told me that you guys signed a non disclosure agreement, to hide it from me. If your helping them, please stop no matter what it cost you. I don’t think you fully realize what these people have been doing to me. … These people tried to kill me.” […]

A few weeks later, his father texted him about a job and he texted back, “You’re going to hell for what you are doing. Don’t say nobody warned you. You are the same type of people who nailed Jesus to the cross. They acted out of fear because of what they didn’t understand.”

He was arrested in July by the Secret Service at the White House while trying to get a meeting with the president. The state police subsequently revoked Reinking’s FOID card and his father took possession of his guns from the local police.

* August 1, 2017

[Reinking] sent a long, profanity-laced rant calling his father a “psychopath” and writing, “You are actively assaulting me, with organized crime, and then being dishonest about doing it.”

* Nov. 12, 2017

“Dad, I got a place out of town now, I’m going to need to get my firearms back from you somehow.”

The shooting took place on April 22, 2018.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Travis Reinking shouldn’t have had firearms, that is absolutely correct.

    Also correct - if that father read those text messages and gave him his guns, then he’s complicit in the crime and should be sued by the victims for all that he’s worth.


  2. - Lake County Mom - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:18 am:

    There’s no ambiguity in the messages Reinking sent his father; he’s clearly suffering from serious mental health problems. His father knew placing guns in his son’s hands would be dangerous. He did it anyway. And it cost four people their lives.

    Jeffrey Reinking is just as guilty of these murders as his son.


  3. - Winderweezle - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    Here is what happens now: FOID is revoked. Cops make arrangements for a friend or family member to take revokee’s forearms to secure revokees firearms. This is pretty much a voluntary process btw.

    So whoever has the guns is in a bad position, revokee badgers family/friends until they are returned legally or illegally. Cops have to store weapons and maintain firearms which is a bigger deal than it sounds because they are responsible for safeguarding guns that can easily be valued from $500 to $2,500 each. Ask to take a tour of an evidence storage area if you doubt me on this claim.

    Only solution I see is civil forfeiture with auction mechanism to reimburse the revokee for the firearms so the family members can’t return the firearms. Anybody care to predict how police administrators and the public will view that?


  4. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    People like Stephen Paddock shouldn’t have access to firearms either, but he wasn’t a crazy person. He was a retired accountant.

    People can pile on the dad here or pile on Reinking’s mental illness, but neither of those things really get to the heart of the mass shooting epidemic in America. Reinking is really the exception because he seems to have a pretty clear mental illness.

    If the father is a murderer here, then whoever sold Paddock those assault rifles are just as guilty of murder too.


  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:22 am:

    The negligence of Jeffrey Reinking is astounding.

    Did he ever try to get his kid some help? He was letting him wander around the country in that state of mind?


  6. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    Law enforcement had him on their radar here in Illinois.

    They revoked his FOID.

    They took his guns and turned them over to a presumably responsible FOID holding family member, his father.

    His father gave them back.

    Apparently you can’t fix stupid.

    One question that comes to mind is was there enough done in terms of mental health care?

    Not that it would have mattered in this case, but another thing I am not clear about is if his name was entered into the national database as banned from buying firearms.

    It does raise another question of how do we, as a nation, track clearly unstable people as they move around the country. Or if we don’t, should we? Is there any protocol to notify local LE when adjudged unstable people move from one juristiction to another?


  7. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    Ah yes, the “this other specific person that used a gun wasn’t crazy, therefore we can’t keep guns away from crazy people” argument. No way to argue with solid logic like that. Well played, sir.


  8. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    Maybe we can start tracking angry white men as they move across the country.


  9. - supplied_demand - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    ==They took his guns and turned them over to a presumably responsible FOID holding family member, his father.

    His father gave them back.

    Apparently you can’t fix stupid.==

    Why should the father be put in this position in the first place? He isn’t law enforcement or a psychiatrist. Blaming him is a distraction from the real issue that our country allows weapons of war to be sold and purchased rather easily.

    Even if the dad never gave the guns back, Travis could have easily purchased new guns through a straw purchase, on a site like armslist, or at a gun show.


  10. - Ryan - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    The NRA and the gun nuts think people like him should.


  11. - Jocko - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:43 am:

    Checkers@ 10:22, What part of “I’m going to need to get my firearms back from you.” unclear?

    I have way more sympathy for the incarcerated junkie who sold the final bag of heroin to his overdosed friend.


  12. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    ===Even if the dad never gave the guns back, Travis could have easily purchased new guns through a straw purchase, on a site like armslist, or at a gun show.===

    Ah yes, but here’s the problem with that. He didn’t purchase them elsewhere. The dad, who had years of evidence that Travis was mentally ill and dangerous, handed over the guns. therefore, the dad is culpable and should be held liable.


  13. - Ga. Dawg - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:45 am:

    My dad used to say, “The only person a locked door stops is an honest person anyway.” Changing laws alone will not solve all these problems. Locations that have stricter gun laws still suffer from gun violence. Then, not all people with a mental illness are violent. In addition, an ill person, whether it’s mental of physical illness, still has a right to refuse treatment. There are not enough mental health services to provide what is needed. And, even with all that has happened in recent years, funding mental health services is not a high priority. There are no simple solutions to a tremendously complex societal problem.


  14. - Winderweezle - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    Angry and mentally ill are completely different. But in the context of the D.C. Snipers you might wish to widen the net.

    Is the solution I’m hearing is that we (better) track the mentally ill?

    Once you threaten a secret service protectee, you are being monitored better than any hollowed out state agency can. Just sayin’.


  15. - Scott Cross for President - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    supplied_demand +1

    The loving father of a mentally ill gun owner should not be put in this position. His dad got 100% of the responsibility but zero training or guidance from professional on how to proceed. The guns should go to the local police or sheriff.

    And may the families of those 4 innocent victims slaughtered here feel some semblance of love and joy at their first Christmas and holiday without them.


  16. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    –Once you threaten a secret service protectee, you are being monitored better than any hollowed out state agency can. –

    How do you figure? By whom? Reinking got his guns back and shot up the waffle house after that.


  17. - SSL - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    The father acting responsibley may not have stopped the shooting of innocent people, but it would have made it a lot more difficult. Should never have put guns back in his son’s hands.

    Unfortunately it takes something like this to get a mentally ill person off the street. Hopefully JB will properly prioritize the mental health issue as tax rates go up. That’s an increase I can support.


  18. - Winderweezle - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    ===How do you figure? By whom? Reinking got his guns back and shot up the waffle house after that.===

    Wordslinger, That’s my point. Reinking had FOID revoked, weapons “taken away” that is the end of the story for local/state law enforcement. They move on to put out the next fire.

    But when he apparently threatened a secret service protectee, well that’s different. My guess is he was entered in a searchable database. Secret Service does some follow up and tracking of everyone who threatens a protectee.

    Which is by far more than any city, county or state law enforcement agency is capable of doing.


  19. - Winderweezle - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    Wordslinger since I didn’t directly answer your question: Secret Service.


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    – “The only person a locked door stops is an honest person anyway.” –

    So you must not lock your doors. Right?

    You making a very simple-minded argument that could be applied to any law you don’t like.


  21. - Peters Piece - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    Being the parent of a seriously mentally ill adult is really hard. Sometimes you simply want to get through the day and are not looking at the big picture. Does that absolve one of responsibility, no. Does it mean communities and mental health professionals and law enforcement professionals need to be more sensitive to the expectations we place on the family. Also could be more pro-active. Ultimately we need more sensible firearms access for everyone with special attention to laws limiting access for those with documented violence potential. Mentally ill or not.


  22. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    –But when he apparently threatened a secret service protectee, well that’s different. My guess is he was entered in a searchable database. Secret Service does some follow up and tracking of everyone who threatens a protectee. –

    They didn’t stop him from getting guns or shooting up the waffle house.


  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    The father is certainly culpable, he knew his son had his foid revoked. He gave him the firearms anyway. The father should certainly be prosecuted and punished.


  24. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:33 am:

    My daddy used to say “son, you can’t fix stupid”. That applies to many comments on this thread.

    There are things that can be done to reduce gun violence. No single act will solve the problem so it requires a concerted effort and resources. Saying that people will get guns anyway as an absolution for doing anything is simply stupid.

    People are going to get sick so we should pay for health care? Yeah. And no.


  25. - Ga. Dawg - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:38 am:

    Wordslinger, yes, I still lock my doors. The point I very poorly tried to make is that even with a locked door, a determined burglar will still find a way in. I am not opposed to gun laws. I do not believe that the mentally ill should have access to guns. But what I’m trying to say is that just laws won’t solve the problem. Sorry for my poor attempt at trying to make that point.


  26. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:28 pm:

    = But what I’m trying to say is that just laws won’t solve the problem.=

    Enforcement helps.

    As was experienced in this case where the Tazwell County Sheriff cited “constitutional issues” for returning the guns, the laws on the books need to be enforced.

    That may require more law enforcement, which requires more funding in the form of…taxes.


  27. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    RNUG askaed a good question, was his name submitted to the NICS database? While his fathers poor judgement/recklessness/whatever make it moot in this case it is something the state can do for basically nothing. If he’s NCIS he isn’t just driving over the border to pick up a new one.

    It’s sad that his father, who we’d most expect yo have his sons best interest at heart, failed him & society so completely.


  28. - Mason born - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    1:37 with all the spelling errors was me. Sorry.


  29. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    Its my opinion that the father used extraordinary poor judgement. You just cant make mistakes like that. Responsible gun ownership, like responsible gun handling is vital. You are allowed no redos.


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    ==was his name submitted to the NICS database?==

    For what, exactly? I haven’t read anything that said he was committed to a mental health facility involuntarily by a Court, which would be the Federal mental health threshold to stop someone from possessing purchasing in Tennessee or wherever he was. Illinois-only laws would have zero impact if he no longer lived here.


  31. - A State Employee Guy - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    Yes, and while we’re at it, neither should people like Terry Strawn. Tell me where the line is between neurodiverse people who should and should not have access to guns.

    https://people.com/crime/florida-deputy-sheriff-kills-family-kills-himself-in-front-officers/


  32. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    There are two issues here. One is the father which I think has been sufficiently mentioned here, but as at least one person above mentioned, why were firearms for an adult given back to a family member? As we talked about before it’s probably legal, but it shouldn’t be and the sheriff shouldn’t have it as a practice.


  33. - I Miss Bentohs - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    Maybe we can start tracking angry white men as they move across the country. This needs fixing I see.

    Maybe we can start tracking white men as they move across the country. Fixed.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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