Authorities confiscated Travis Reinking’s AR-15 months before he used it to kill four people at a Waffle House in Tennessee, according to Illinois police records.
Reinking, who has been on the run since the Sunday shooting, was detained by secret service in July after breaching the White House perimeter in an attempt to meet with President Donald Trump. Following the incident, police revoked his Illinois gun identification card due to mental health concerns and confiscated his four legally owned firearms.
When police arrived at Reinking’s home to take the guns, his father, who is licensed in Illinois, asked to keep them and promised to keep them away from his son, but now admits he returned them after police left.
“He was allowed to do that after he assured deputies he would keep them secure and away from Travis,” Tazewell County Sheriff Robert M. Huston told reporters Sunday, referring to Reinking’s father.
Certain firearms can be released to family members after they are confiscated, according to the law in Reinking’s home state of Illinois. Reinking could not legally possess the guns in Illinois, though it remains unclear whether his possession of the four guns, one of which — a pistol — is now missing from his apartment, violated Tennessee law.
The trespassing incident at the White House was not Reinking’s first encounter with law enforcement, according to police reports.
In May 2016, police responded to a call regarding Reinking, who was insisting that Taylor Swift was stalking him. Tazewell County Sheriff’s Deputies brought him to the hospital for evaluation following the incident.
Roughly one month before his run in with secret service, Reinking was reported for threatening someone an AR-15 while wearing a pink dress. After threatening the man, Reinking exposed himself to onlookers at a public pool.
James Shaw Jr., 29, stopped the shooting by grabbing the gun barrel and wrenching it away from Reinking, preventing further casualties. One Waffle House employee and three customers were killed and two women remain in critical condition.
“I want people to know that I did that completely out of a selfish act,” Shaw, who was grazed by a bullet, told reporters after he was released from the hospital Sunday. “I was completely doing it just to save myself…. I did save other people, but I don’t want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that.”
The gunman, who was wearing only a green tactical jacket, is believed to have returned to his nearby apartment to retrieve pants before fleeing to a wooded area adjacent to his apartment complex. He moved to Antioch, Tenn. from Morton, Ill. last fall and had recently been fired from a construction job.
Reinking was charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, for breaching the White House barriers. He was ordered to perform 32 hours of community service and to stay away from the White House for four months. Charges were later dropped after it was determined that he complied with the court’s conditions.