Citizen's Tip Led to Waffle House Shooter's Arrest

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 25, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Alleged Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking is now in custody, after construction worker Lydia French dialed 911 when she spotted him emerging from the woods near her worksite near Nashville, Tennessee. Reinking did not answer questions or provide police with a statement, leaving the motive for the shooting, during which he killed Akilah Dasilva, DeEbony Groves, Joe Perez, and Taurean Sanderlin, unclear.

What Reinking did leave behind, according to police, was a mountain evidence linking him to the shooting and a criminal history that makes it unclear why he was able to access weapons he was prohibited from owning.

Plenty of Red Flags

Several media outlets have detailed the odd and criminal events in Reinking's past, a history that drew the attention of local and state police, the FBI and even the U.S. Secret Service:

  • In May 2016, Reinking reported to Illinois police that the pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him, harassing him, and hacking his phone after his parents called sheriff's deputies to a drugstore parking lot;
  • In June 2017, he went to a local pool near Tremont, Illinois in a "pink women's housecoat," swam in his underwear, and exposed himself to and tried to pick fights with lifeguards;
  • Later that day he brought a rifle to the offices of his father's construction business, shouted expletives at employees, and then drove away;
  • In July 2017, he was arrested by Secret Service agents after he crossed a barrier at the White House, referred to himself as a "sovereign citizen," and said he "wanted to set up a meeting with the president; and
  • Soon after Illinois state police asked the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office to revoke a card allowing Reinking to possess guns and ammunition in the state.

It's the last part, especially, that has people wondering how Reinking used his AR-15 to kill four people on Sunday. (Reinking also allegedly stole a BMW from a Nashville-area dealership four days before the shooting.)

Fathers, Sons, and Guns

After Illinois authorities revoked Reinking's gun possession, four firearms, including the assault-style rifle used in the Waffle House shooting, were given to his father, Jeffrey Reinking, who assured police he would lock them up. He has since admitted to giving them back to his son before the shooting.

"We were able to effectively neutralize what we felt was the threat at the time by ensuring that he did not have the ability to purchase or own weapons and that those weapons were taken," Matthew E. Espenshade, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Memphis division, said Monday. "He was not able to possess or own those weapons."

Travis Reinking is facing four homicide charges (at the very least) and Davidson County Judge Michael Mondelli revoked his $2 million bond, meaning Reinking will not be released prior to a bond hearing May 7. No charges have yet been filed against Jeffrey Reinking for transferring the guns to his son.

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