Police: Father of Waffle House shooting suspect could face charges

An SUV leaves the home of a relative of the suspected shooter Travis Reinking in Morton, Illinois on April 23, 2018. (Rachel Droze)

The father of the alleged Waffle House shooter could be facing charges for returning seized weapons to his son, according to a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent.

The alleged shooter, Travis Reinking, formerly lived in Morton near Peoria, and he’s had several run-ins with the law enforcement in Tazewell County.

“Morton is a very small town,” said Jill Hambrick, owner of Plank Pilates Studio in Morton, Illinois. “It’s very family friendly and wholesome.”

A sign at the city limits listed a population of 16,670.

“A lot of people have been born and raised here and really feel safe here,” Hambrick said.

But news of Sunday’s mass shooting at a Waffle House just outside of Nashville, Tennessee is hitting close to home.

“It just seems different when it’s from your area,” Hambrick said.

“The couple people that I was speaking with this morning, everyone’s definitely concerned,” Hambrick said.

Neighbors said Reinking’s father, Jeffrey, still lives in Morton.

He is being scrutinized for how he handled his son’s firearms.

An incident report filed by the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office shows they seized four firearms and ammo from Reinking in August of 2017 because Reinking’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, commonly called a FOID Card, was revoked.

Those weapons were then released to Reinking’s father Jeffery according to the report.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department stated Sunday at a press conference that Reinking's father gave the weapons back to him.

Illinois State Police said this is allowed under state law.

“If an individual becomes revoked and they want to transfer their firearms to another person, that recipient must have a valid FOID card,” said Lt. Matt Boerwinkle, chief public information officer at the Illinois State Police.

Reports from the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office show several red flags that Reinking potentially has a mental health condition:

  • May 27, 2016: Report states Reinking was “delusional and believed the famous entertainer, Taylor Swift, was harassing him” by stalking him and hacking into his phone.
  • June 16, 2017: Report states Reinking “barged into [a local pool] wearing a pink woman’s house coat… then took off his house coat and was swimming in just his underwear.” No charges were pressed.
  • August 11, 2017: Report states Reinking wanted to file a report that “approzimately 20 to 30 people [were] hacking into his phone and computer” and that he had “been hearing unknown people outside his residence barking like dogs”.
  • August 24, 2017: Report states police retrieved Travis Reinking’s four firearms and ammunition and released them to his father, who agreed to keep the “weapons secure and away from Travis”.

Talks in Congress have already turned to passing stricter gun control laws, but some in central Illinois are saying that’s not going to stop these mass shootings happening across America.

“I think mental health is the answer,” Schmidgall said. “I think we are so deficient in caring for people with mental problems.”

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