Father of Waffle House shooter named in wrongful death suit

By Holly Eaton for Chronicle Media

Despite being told by the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department to keep guns away from his son, Travis, Jeffrey Reinking is claiming he didn’t know better when he handed them back to him.

Travis Reinking remains at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute

During the early morning hours of April 22, 2018, Travis Reinking, then 29, entered a Waffle House in Antioch, Tenn. and killed four people with an AR-47 assault rifle, one of the weapons his father gave him before he moved to Tennessee, according to law enforcement in Davidson County, Tenn.

Travis has been charged in those deaths and he  remains in custody pending evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial.

Now, the elder Reinking is facing legal action from family members of some of his son’s victims.

Akilah DaSilva, 23, was among the shooting victims, and his mother, Shaundelle Brooks, has since filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit. In November, Davidson County Circuit Court judge found Travis Reinking liable in DaSilva’s death, and Jeffrey Reinking is named as a defendant in the suit.

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Binkley then ruled that a civil jury trial should be scheduled to determine what damages Travis Reinking owes DaSilva’s family.

In a statement provided by Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz, Brooks said, “The purpose of this lawsuit is to honor my son’s beloved memory, hold those responsible for his death fully accountable, and help ensure that nobody else’s family ever has to experience the sorrow and horror that we have.”

Long before the shooting, Travis Reinking displayed signs of being mental illness. His bizarre behavior is documented in various police reports, which include a May 2016 incident at the Morton CVS Pharmacy, where he told police he believed singer Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his cell phone. He also threatened to commit suicide.

A month later, Tremont Police were called to the public swimming pool where Travis Reinking had exposed himself and was swimming in his underwear.

Another person reported to the police that Travis also was seen wearing a pink house coat and had a rifle.

The confiscation of Travis Reinking’s weapons occurred after he was arrested in August 2016 for trespassing in a restricted area of the White House. His Firearms Owner Identification Card was revoked, and the sheriff’s department attempted to confiscate the guns that month.

Because Jeffrey Reinking possessed a valid FOID card, the weapons were given to him on a vow that he would keep them secure and out of his son’s reach, in a vault.

Last month, Jeffrey Reinking registered a claim in the lawsuit stating that the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office did not expressly tell him not to return the guns to his son. Liability and damages in the lawsuit will be determined by jury.

Four months after the shooting, Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn ruled that Travis was mentally unfit to stand trial.

He has been remanded to Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute, until he is found fit to stand trial. Updates on his condition are due every six months until then.

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