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Father of Waffle House shooter charged with felony

Friday, Mar 15, 2019

* The Tennessean

Authorities in Illinois have charged the father of the suspect in the deadly Nashville Waffle House shooting, accusing him of illegally giving his son the gun used to kill four people at the restaurant.

Jeffrey Reinking was charged Thursday with unlawful delivery of a firearm. Prosecutors said he gave his son Travis Reinking a gun — despite the fact that his son had recently been hospitalized for mental health issues.

Travis Reinking is schizophrenic, according to a medical expert who evaluated him and testified in court. Illinois prosecutors said he had been treated at the mental health unit of Methodist Medical Center of Illinois.

Illinois state law forbids people from selling or giving guns to anyone who has “been a patient in a mental institution within the past five years.”

* NBC 5

“Mass shootings have raised public awareness regarding the need to keep firearms out of the hands of persons afflicted with mental illness,” [Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart 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. […]

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.

* WEEK TV

Reinking’s attorney disputed the charges.

“Jeff Reinking has not committed a criminal offense. He has been charged under an Illinois statute that prohibits the sale or gift of firearms to someone who has been in a mental institution. But Jeff didn’t sell or gift Travis the guns,” said Joel E. Brown, Reinking’s attorney in a statement to WKRN in Nashville. “The district attorney wants to pound a round peg into a square hole because of the terrible events that happened months after Travis’s weapons were returned to him. Returning Travis’s guns to Travis is not a criminal offense and we will fight it in court.”

* Peoria Journal Star

In May 2016, a Tazewell County sheriff’s deputy met with Travis Reinking and members of his family, including his father. Travis Reinking said he believed singer Taylor Swift had been stalking him and hacking into his cellphone and Netflix account. Further, the younger Reinking said Swift had arranged to meet him at the Dairy Queen in Morton, but she only yelled at him from across the street before climbing up the side of a building and onto the roof before disappearing. Also in the meeting with the deputy, the family said Travis Reinking had been suicidal. At the end of that meeting, which also was attended by a representative of the Tazewell County Emergency Response Services, Travis Reinking agreed to go into Methodist’s Behavior Health Unit. He was there from May 26 to June 3 of 2016.

In August 2017, after Travis Reinking became a resident of Colorado, the state of Illinois revoked his Firearm Owner’s Identification Card because he was no longer a resident of Illinois. Further, a representative from the Illinois State Police confiscated the card from Travis Reinking and transferred his firearms — including a Bushmaster AR-15 — into the possession of his father. The complaint alleges a county Sheriff’s Department officer “advised” Reinking that the weapons confiscated from Travis in August 2017 and “transferred” to him “were to be kept secured and away from Travis.” […]

Jeffrey Reinking’s attorney said after the charge was filed that the statute defining the crime of giving a firearm to a person whose mental state makes him potentially dangerous does not apply in Reinking’s case.

The weapons “were neither his to sell or give. He never owned the weapons, they were his son’s” who, at the time, had a legal right to have them, said Peoria attorney Joel Brown. “The term ‘give’ is not defined in the statute.”

Jeffrey Reinking “did some research” and concluded his son was entitled to their return, Brown said.

Sheesh. What a mess. Why weren’t his guns confiscated and his FOID card revoked when he was hospitalized?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

45 Comments
  1. - Annonin' - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:36 am:

    Sounds like we may want to hold space in the looney tunes bin for Jeffer and Lawyer Brown too.


  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    He did not have a legal right to have the guns. Weak argument. Jeffrey Reinking made a willful and deliberate decision both to hold the firearms and give them to Travis.


  3. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    “The term ‘give’ is not defined in the statute.”

    I mean, they were in Jeffrey’s possession, and then he “returned” them to Travis.

    Looking up synonyms of “return” on google:
    re·turn
    /rəˈtərn/Submit
    verb
    1.
    come or go back to a place or person.

    2.
    give, put, or send (something) back to a place or person.
    “complete the application form and return it to this address”
    synonyms:give back,…


  4. - Kevin Highland - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    –”Why weren’t his guns confiscated and his FOID card revoked when he was hospitalized?”–

    Because he voluntarily committed himself.


  5. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    === Why weren’t his guns confiscated and his FOID card revoked when he was hospitalized? ===

    They should have been. But is the answer to that question the failure to properly fund government to perform these needed services? Hollowing out of govt has been a long term problem. The policymakers are eager to add programs and requirements, but are dragged kicking and screaming to raise the revenue to pay for their mandates. Oops, the GOP is eager to cut that revenue and exacerbate the hollowing out of government.


  6. - cover - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:48 am:

    If Jeffrey Reinking is convicted, will he also lose his right to possess firearms? Frankly it would serve him right.


  7. - Anon - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    this is great news. people should be held accountable for actions taken with weapons that they are responsible for. in this case, the dad who gave the weapon to his son is ultimately responsible for the crimes committed. this could be avoided if the weapon was registered an licensed to the owner. then, once possession was transferred, and the proper paperwork was submitted to the unit of government tracking gun ownership, liability would have transferred with the gun title to the new owner. of course, such a transfer would not have been possible if the proper background checks were enforced. until such time, this is a positive development!


  8. - RNUG - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    Let me say up front the guns should not have been returned. The father is at least morally and ethically at fault.

    But from a legal standpoint, this looks like it might be a stretch. I suspect the real question is going to come down to where, geographically, the transfer took place. If the transfer took place in Illinois, then there may be some basis for a charge, just maybe not this one. If the transfer took place outside of Illinois, going to be really tough to make a case. Unless there was paperwork or a witness, it comes down to he said and they said.


  9. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    Gift has a legal definition and is not just a transfer of possession. It is a transfer of ownership. If Mr. Reinking the father never owned the weapons, he could not transfer ownership of the weapons to the son. Therefore, he could not give the weapons to the son and is not liable under the statute.


  10. - SSL - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    Why a father would return guns to a son with mental health issues is beyond me. That’s an eleven on the stupid meter.

    Throw the book at him.


  11. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    ===Jeffrey Reinking “did some research” and concluded his son was entitled to their return, Brown said.===

    What “research” did he do?


  12. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    The cops/law said that Travis had no right to ownership of the weapons, and physically transferred the weapons to the father. It’s going to be a stretch to say that that did not constitute transferring ownership. But we’ll see.


  13. - PublicServant - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    SSL FTW


  14. - PJ - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:01 am:

    What’s really important to focus on if is everyone in the waffle house had been carrying a grenade launcher the way our founding fathers intended, this tragedy could have been prevented.


  15. - Bruce (no not him) - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    Does the act of the sheriff’s deputy “transfering” the gun to the father constitute an ownership transfer? Or is just “possession for safe keeping”? That seems to me to be the real issue. If it does not, then the weapon still belonged to the son.


  16. - A Jack - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    One problem is that the son was not adjudicated as mentally defective (legal term, not mine). There should be a stronger definition of when a person is mentally incapable of owning a gun.

    I had a similar situation in my family with a relative who was pacing up and down in front of the Executive Mansion with a shotgun. It was back when Walker was Governor. The police took the gun away and gave it to his father. His father sold the shotgun to my father for $10 to get the thing out of the house. I still have that shotgun. The relative ended up getting committed.

    This was in the days before FOID cards. I have to wonder if the FOID rules got in the way of the father transferring the guns to a third party. But still he should not have given the weapons back to his son. Perhaps the FOID rules need to be modified to allow the easy disposal of weapons confiscated from a family member.


  17. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    We have laws and statutes, Lawyers and wanna be lawyers will argue the meaning of them. More importantly we have common sense, and that is what was lacking here. The father should have never transferred the firearms in any manner or definition to his son. He knew his mental state and issues. I feel based on common sense the father us an accessory to what his son did.


  18. - Jocko - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    ==before climbing up the side of a building and onto the roof before disappearing==

    Like JM2 was saying, I don’t know what “research” Jeffrey Reinking did, but I have news for him. Your son is mentally ill.

    I’m glad he feels terrible about what happened, given the fact that he “returned” the firearm to his incompetent son.


  19. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    == Or is just “possession for safe keeping”? ==

    The other things people are breezing over is that the guns are valuable private property. Even if the son did not have a FOID card, he likely had the right to sell the guns. The state never seized the guns pursuant to a criminal charge. In fact, Illinois revoked the FOID card because the son moved out of state, not because of anything to do with his mental health.


  20. - thoughts matter - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:34 am:

    I think the important words are ‘Illinois law’, ‘Illinois resident’, and ‘revoked because he moved out of state’. The son wasn’t an Illinois resident and therefore didn’t need a FOID card to have a gun in Tennessee. Can an Illinois official tell someone what they can do in another state?

    What did Tennessee law say? And does it matter where they were at when he came back into possession of the gun?

    I will stipulate there’s a big gaping hole in safety across states. I will state that I don’t think he should have has possession of these guns. I think the father should have lied and said he sold them and ‘paid’ his son the non existent sale money. Or said I won’t give them back to you because it’s not safe. But I don’t think the courts can find him in violation of the Illinois law. It will have to be an applicable Tennessee law.


  21. - Kevin Highland - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    “does it matter where they were at when he came back into possession of the gun?”

    Federally it does matter. A resident of one state cannot do a private transfer to the resident of another state. I has to pass through the hands of an FFL.


  22. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    ==Why weren’t his guns confiscated and his FOID card revoked when he was hospitalized?==

    It depends on “how” he was hospitalized, and what laws applied to him. Just because he was taken to a hospital doesn’t mean he went through the entire process and was formally committed, which many times takes weeks to process. He may have been released before a judgment was entered. If he was formally admitted by a Court, he wouldn’t be prohibited from possessing firearms under Federal law. If he wasn’t formally ordered to get treatment he wouldn’t be prohibited under Federal law. So, if he legally resided in another State, he would still legally be allowed to own and possess them.


  23. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    how long did that take? but based on this thread, legislators will surely take a look at current laws to ensure clarity and fill in more gaps.


  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    ==Federally it does matter. A resident of one state cannot do a private transfer to the resident of another state. I has to pass through the hands of an FFL.==

    But, if the son already owned them, and was legally allowed to possess them, it may not be a “transfer” under Federal law.


  25. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    –Jeffrey Reinking “did some research” and concluded his son was entitled to their return, Brown said.–

    Where does one conduct the “research” to reach the conclusion “my schizophrenic son thinks Taylor Swift is stalking him, ergo, he’s ‘entitled’ to be heavily armed?”


  26. - common_sense - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    by this logic the folks that did not confiscate his guns and FOID card should be prosecuted also


  27. - JS Mill - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    =Jeff Reinking has not committed a criminal offense.=

    Yes he has.

    =Because he voluntarily committed himself.=

    Nope. Even if he went voluntarily he has to give up his FOID and cannot possess a gun.


  28. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===Because he voluntarily committed himself.=

    Nope. Even if he went voluntarily he has to give up his FOID and cannot possess a gun.==

    According to what was filed, he did not go voluntarily. But if he was only there a few days, which the filing also states, he likely was not formally admitted by the Court, so he would not have met the federal definition of involuntary admission.


  29. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 12:22 pm:

    If the FOID card had been revoked for mental illness while Travis Reinking was a resident of Illinois, the case would be simpler.

    Had Travis taken the guns with him when he moved to Colorado, there would be no case in Illinois. When he left Illinois he could legally own the guns.

    When he became a Colorado resident, it is not clear that Illinois laws prohibited him from owning guns in Illinois. It is even less clear that the father could not hold weapons for his non-resident son.

    The father was a fool. It is not clear that he broke any laws.


  30. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    Meanwhile, we have yet another instance of white nationalists engaging in a mass shooting. When do we start prosecuting the NRA or Republican party for their willing embrace of racist and anti-social ideology?


  31. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    I fail to see the connection between the Republican Party and the NRA to an nut job Bosnian war criminal idolizer in NZ. Can you explain the connection?


  32. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    The Islamophobia.


  33. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Common sense, your reading comprehension needs work. The law Jeffrey allegedly broke was in “giving” the guns back to Travis, after his mental illness institutionalization. The cops did not give Travis the guns, so they in no way violated that law.


  34. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    Ridiculous.


  35. - I Miss Bentohs - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    The father is not the one in the wrong. The laws are.


  36. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    States Attorney Umholtz said the following:

    “Mass shootings have raised public awareness regarding the need to keep firearms out of the hands of persons afflicted with mental illness.”

    “Mental illness” has certainly been offered up by the gun lobby as a way to make people feel like they are doing something to prevent mass shootings while protecting the gun manufacturer’s profits and not actually preventing mass shootings. The reality is you can name five shootings where the shooter was motivated by garden variety racism for every one where the shooter suffered from a clear mental illness. States Attorney Umholtz clearly thinks he is doing something to prevent mass shootings by prosecuting the father here though. He is wrong.

    The father was placed in an extremely difficult position, and a position that no one here can really contemplate. You really don’t know how you would’ve reacted if that was your son.

    What’s the bottom line here: a contorted interpretation of the law to feed into a faulty and dangerous narrative that ignores the real issues of mass shootings.


  37. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    A gun registry seems like it would fix this.

    “We’re transferring ownership of these guns to you. Sign right here please.”

    Something tells me the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree in this family, and pops was looking for a fig leaf to flout the gun law because he considers all gun laws an infringement.


  38. - Jocko - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==You really don’t know how you would’ve reacted if that was your son==

    Actually, I do. I would’ve got my son mental health treatment, made sure he took his meds regularly, and kept his weapons until a professional told me he could safely have them back (which is probably never)


  39. - ArchPundit - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:28 pm:

    I’ll second RNUG here. Unless there are facts we aren’t aware of, I don’t see the legal case. But the father messed up.

    ===The father was placed in an extremely difficult position, and a position that no one here can really contemplate. You really don’t know how you would’ve reacted if that was your son.

    Mental illness is fairly common–many of us have experience with dealing with mental illness and firearms. And returning them to someone who has a mental illness of the degree the kid has is not something any reasonable person would do.


  40. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    I must have used a keyword that kept my post from showing.

    Psychotropic meds are more prevalent in mass shooters than any other factor. Maybe 3 in the last 20 years I can think of were not reported to use those meds.


  41. - A State Employee Guy - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    So you’re telling me that RNUG is the most sensible on matters other than just pensions?

    …RNUG for Gov 2022?


  42. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    == Psychotropic meds are more prevalent in mass shooters than any other factor. Maybe 3 in the last 20 years I can think of were not reported to use those meds. ==

    Gee, thanks for making my point for me.


  43. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 4:17 pm:

    Plus, Travis Reinking needed to take his psychotropic medication. What you said, FormerParatrooper, implies that the medication caused the violence, which is a very dangerous and damaging statement to make.


  44. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 5:54 pm:

    You stated “  The reality is you can name five shootings where the shooter was motivated by garden variety racism for every one where the shooter suffered from a clear mental illness. ”

    I stated  ” Psychotropic meds are more prevalent in mass shooters than any other factor. Maybe 3 in the last 20 years I can think of were not reported to use those meds.”

    Your point stated racism was the motivation 5 to one over mental illness.   With only 3 possibly out of dozens that were not on these meds, your point does not seem to be factual. 

    The overwhelming majority of these individuals were prescribed these medications for some sort of mental illness, I have yet to find them prescribed for racism. And based on the side effects of these types of meds, they shouldn’t be prescribed for racism. They are akin to the opioids that pharmaceutical companies and Drs push, the one type of drug that the labels actually cite effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation.

    The med may not cause violence, but the label seems to suggest that it may.


  45. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 10:28 pm:

    Antipsychotic drugs do not cause violence. Antipsychotic drugs are tranquilizers and are much more likely to cause sedation than any violent behavior.

    You seem to be making a point made in the following article:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mad-in-america/201101/psychiatric-drugs-and-violence-review-fda-data-finds-link%3famp

    However, if you look at the details of the article, you will see that it focuses on antidepressants and drugs to treat ADHD, not antipsychotic drugs.

    So, I must reiterate my point that your position is dangerous. You are incorrectly advising people with psychosis that the drugs that cure their illness are dangerous and likely to cause violence. Your is like anti-vaccination mania, and just as wrong.


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