Next court appearance set for father of man accused of fatal Waffle House shooting

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — The father of the man accused of opening fire and killing four people at a Waffle House in 2018 appeared in court Friday, and his attorney argued there is no way to properly charge him.

At the Tazewell County Courthouse, Jeffrey Reinking’s attorney said the bill of indictment was too vague to properly charge him for unlawful delivery of a firearm. His attorney, Joel Brown, said the indictment reads Reinking “gave” his son Travis the gun, which is owned by Travis, and that is not specific enough.

The defense asked the court to accept his motion to dismiss. However, Tazewell County state’s attorney Stu Umholtz and the state’s attorney general Kwame Raoul’s office asked the court not to dismiss it. Umholtz’s office said he believes Reinking’s arguments were “repetitive.”

Raoul’s office said Brown is focusing on the word “give,” when it is common knowledge to understand what the word means. The AG’s office also said there is a rule that when you get a FOID card, and if you get admitted into a mental institution, the card is no longer eligible.

“Can you not hand a gun to its owner because they went into a mental institution? It’s absurdity,” Brown said.

Reinking was charged in March 2019 with the class 4 felony for knowingly giving a Bushmaster AR-15 to his son between Nov. 12-30, 2017. Travis was a patient at Methodist Medical Center of Illinois – Mental Health Unit within the last five years, making the delivery a violation. 

Travis’s FOID card was revoked in August 2017 when he moved to Colorado. 

In December 2018, Jeffrey confirmed he gave his son access to guns, even though Tazewell County police advised him to keep him away from them. 

Travis is on trial for the Nashville Waffle House shooting that left four people dead in April 2018. The gun was determined to be a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.

Judge Katherine Gorman is taking it under advisement and said she will make a written order in the next few weeks. A review has been set for July 9 at 9 a.m. If convicted, Jeffrey could be sentenced to probation, or 1-3 years in prison. The court may also assess a $25,000 fine. 

In January of this year, Tennessee prosecutors said they would not seek a death penalty for Travis, who plead not guilty in February 2019. He is facing 17 felony charges.

Those who were at the courthouse for Reinking on Friday did not wear face masks or practice social distancing. Gorman put that on the record of the hearing. She told them that next time there will not be enough space for all of them and many of them will likely be turned away.

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