Why did father of Waffle House shooter give his son his guns back?
What earthly reason could there be for returning weapons to Travis Reinking, the now-arrested suspect in the Nashville-area shooting at a Waffle House restaurant that killed four people and injured more?
The 29-year-old Reinking has shown multiple signs of being mentally ill. According to a report in The Washington Post:
While Reinking was at large, police had warned he was dangerous and said he showed “signs of significant instability,” [Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Don] Aaron had said at a news briefing earlier Monday.
He pointed to Reinking’s arrest outside the White House last year as well as a string of bizarre encounters with law enforcement officials in Illinois. Reinking once told law enforcement officers that the singer Taylor Swift had been harassing and stalking him — a delusion that authorities in Illinois said Reinking had had for years.
Last year, police records show that Reinking went to a local pool in Illinois wearing a pink dress and swam in his underwear while coaxing life guards to fight him. Soon after, he traveled to the nation’s capital and tried to cross a security barrier near the White House, declaring himself a “sovereign citizen” who wanted to speak with President Trump.
After an FBI investigation, state and local officials confiscated Reinking’s weapons. Twice.
The weapons were given to Reinking’s father, who agreed to keep them secure and away from Reinking, officials said. But the father later acknowledged giving the weapons back to his son, police said, who had moved to Tennessee.
How is this legal? How is it legal for Reinking’s father to give his son his guns back, guns that included semiautomatic weapons like an AR-15? Turns out, it’s not.
Reinking’s father could potentially face charges for returning the guns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. His father and other relatives could not immediately be reached, and a woman who answered the phone at a number registered to Reinking’s relatives in Illinois said, “We have no comment.”
I don’t think I would have any comment, either. I don’t know what you could say when you realize that your action of giving your mentally ill son (also tied to right-wing groups and who had declared himself a “sovereign citizen”) back his guns, which he then used to murder four people. Four young people whose lives were cut short. The victims:
- Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, Tenn., a restaurant employee who was fatally shot while standing outside.
- Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville, who was also standing outside.
- DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, Tenn. She was a senior majoring in social work at Belmont University.
- Akilah DaSilva, 23, of Antioch. He was a musician and a student pursuing a career in musical engineering at Middle Tennessee State University.
Let’s also point out the heroic actions of James Shaw Jr., a good guy without a gun, who wrestled the AR-15 away, burning his hands and getting his elbow grazed with a bullet in the process.
Police aren’t commenting yet on Travis Reinking’s motives in the shooting, and Reinking hasn’t made any comments so far. But his victims were all people of color. Ties to right-wing groups suggest that this was racially motivated domestic terrorism. The definition of “sovereign citizen,” according to a report from Raw Story:
The FBI says that sovereign citizens are “anti-government extremists who claim the federal government is operating outside its jurisdiction and they are therefore not bound by government authority — including the courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, and even law enforcement.”
We don’t know Reinking’s father’s views on guns, the National Rifle Association, mental illness, the sovereign citizen movement, or anything else. He might share the same political beliefs or not. No one is saying.
But if Travis Reinking’s father isn’t arrested — and quickly — that just goes to show (once again) that justice is not equal across racial lines.