Thursday, July 12, 2018

Should the father of the Waffle House shooter be liable? Lawsuit filed.

by Rod Williams, July 12, 2018 - Shaundelle Brooks, the mother of one of the victims of the Waffle House shooting filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit yesterday against the shooter, Travis Reinking, and his father, Jeffrey Reinking.

On April 22 at 3:24 in the morning Jeffrey Reinking pulled up to the Antioch Waffle House in his pickup truck and fatally shot two people outside the restaurant with an AR-15 type rifle, then entered the restaurant and  gunned down other patrons, killing at least one person. One patron who was wounded in the shooting  later died at the hospital.

Twenty-nine year-old James Shaw Jr. was dining at the Waffle House at the time and when he saw Reinking struggling with the rifle at one point, Shaw rushed Reinking and wrestled the weapon away him and tossed it over the restaurant’s counter, no doubt saving many lives. James Shaw was a hero.

Reinking was wearing a green jacket and was otherwise naked at the time of the shooting.  He fled the scene on foot naked, dropping the green coat he was wearing. A manhunt ensued and Reinking was captured the next day.

Reinking who was from Illinois and had recently moved to Nashville. In Illinois, to own a firearm, one must have a firearm owners identification card. which at one time he did.  However, in 2017 he had  his weapons removed from his possession, including the weapon used in the Waffle House shooting, following an arrest by the U.S. Secret Service for being in a "restricted area" near the White House. He told the Secret Service he wanted to set up a meeting with the president. 

The county sheriff of the county in which Reinking resided took the guns from Travis and gave them to Reinking's father who had a valid firearm owners identification card. Travis Reinking's firearm identification card was revoked. The father was advised that he needed to keep the weapons secure and away from his son. Unfortunately, Reinking's father soon returned the weapons to Reinking. Doing so, may have violated federal law but he has not been charged with a crime.

In addition to the arrest by the Secret Service, there were other indications that Jeffrey Reinking was a nut-case. He had previously been arrested for showing up at a public swimming pool in a pink dress and exposing himself.  Another bizarre behavior was that he had told people that he was being stalked by Taylor Swift.  He once was arrested for threatening someone with a weapon. He was fired from his job in Nashville after telling co-workers that people in the company were out to get him and exhibiting what his boss called paranoid behavior. 

Daniel Horwitz
The attorney representing Ms Brooks in the case is Daniel Horwitz. "Let this lawsuit serve as a stark warning: If you entrust someone that you know to be both dangerous and mentally unstable with one of the most efficient purveyors of death in modern society, you will be held personally accountable for the consequences," Horwitz said in a statement.

I know that some supporters of gun rights will no doubt be rooting for Mr. Jeffrey Reinking in this case. Not me. I support the Second Amendment, but at a minimum, I agree that if you give someone who is dangerous and mentally unstable a weapon and they kill people with it, you should be held personally liable.

How far we should go in this direction, I am not sure. If a parent leaves a gun unsecured and his teenage child takes the weapon and shoots up a school killing classmates, should the parent be liable? I don't know but I am open to listening to the arguments and thinking about it. 

Given the number of mass shooting in the last few years, I think something needs to change. I oppose gun registration or banning guns. I do not want to repeal the Second Amendment or ignore it.  I also do not want to trample the rights of someone who may be accused of being mentally ill.  If one is too mentally ill to own a gun, they are too mentally ill to vote or drive a car.  Those accused of being mentally ill should not be deprived of their rights without due process. However,  Jeffrey Reinking should not have been able to possess a weapon and his father should pay a price for giving his obviously troubled son the weapon he used to commit this mass murder.

For the Tennessean.s report on this development, follow this link

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