PEKIN — Jeffrey Reinking, whose son is accused of fatally shooting four people at a Nashville Waffle House last year, was charged Thursday in Tazewell County with unlawful delivery of a firearm.
The felony count alleges that between Nov. 12 and Nov. 30, 2017, Jeffrey Reinking gave a Bushmaster AR-15 to his son, Travis Reinking, "who had been a patient at Methodist Medical Center of Illinois Mental Health Unit." Both are residents of Tazewell County. State law forbids the sale or giving a firearm to any person who has been a patient in a mental institution within the past five years.
"Mass shootings have raised public awareness regarding the need to keep firearms out of the hands of persons afflicted with mental illness," said Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz. "There is a good reason why our legislature has chosen to make this a criminal offense. While I strongly support citizens' rights under the Second Amendment, I also strongly support holding individuals accountable for the commission of criminal offenses related to firearms."
Unlawful delivery of a firearm is a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison, though probation is possible. Jeffrey Reinking posted $5,000 bond and is free from custody. His arraignment is set for April 25 in Tazewell County Circuit Court.
In an affidavit of probable cause filed there Thursday, prosecutors laid out the basis for the charge.
In May 2016, a Tazewell County sheriff's deputy met with Travis Reinking and members of his family, including his father. Travis Reinking said he believed singer Taylor Swift had been stalking him and hacking into his cellphone and Netflix account. Further, the younger Reinking said Swift had arranged to meet him at the Dairy Queen in Morton, but she only yelled at him from across the street before climbing up the side of a building and onto the roof before disappearing. Also in the meeting with the deputy, the family said Travis Reinking had been suicidal. At the end of that meeting, which also was attended by a representative of the Tazewell County Emergency Response Services, Travis Reinking agreed to go into Methodist's Behavior Health Unit. He was there from May 26 to June 3 of 2016.
In August 2017, after Travis Reinking became a resident of Colorado, the state of Illinois revoked his Firearm Owner's Identification Card because he was no longer a resident of Illinois. Further, a representative from the Illinois State Police confiscated the card from Travis Reinking and transferred his firearms — including a Bushmaster AR-15 — into the possession of his father. The complaint alleges a county Sheriff’s Department officer “advised” Reinking that the weapons confiscated from Travis in August 2017 and “transferred” to him “were to be kept secured and away from Travis.”
On April 22, 2018, Travis Reinking allegedly killed four people and wounded four others at the Nashville Waffle House. The murder weapon was the AR-15 that had been taken from Travis Reinking and given to his father in 2017. Two days after the killings, Jeffrey Reinking told the FBI that his son had told him in November 2017 that he was moving to Tennessee and wanted his firearms back, and Jeffrey Reinking complied.
Jeffrey Reinking’s attorney said after the charge was filed that the statute defining the crime of giving a firearm to a person whose mental state makes him potentially dangerous does not apply in Reinking’s case.
The weapons “were neither his to sell or give. He never owned the weapons, they were his son’s” who, at the time, had a legal right to have them, said Peoria attorney Joel Brown. “The term ‘give’ is not defined in the statute.”
Jeffrey Reinking “did some research” and concluded his son was entitled to their return, Brown said.
“He feels terrible about what happened” in the restaurant shooting, Brown said.
Travis Reinking was initially ruled mentally unfit to face charges in the case but was found competent last October. He was recently indicted on four counts each of first-degree murder and attempted murder.