Father of accused Waffle House gunman named in lawsuit

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The father of the accused Waffle House gunman has been named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by one of the victim’s families.   

Court documents obtained by News 2 show Jeffrey Reinking faces a civil lawsuit filed by the family of 20-year-old Joe Perez, Jr.  

According to the lawsuit, “the defendant’s negligent entrustment allowed his son to be in possession of a weapon–the Bushmaster AR-15–that he used to shoot and kill Joe Perez, Jr.”  

MORE: ‘He will never be 21:’ Mom remembers son killed in Waffle House shooting

Travis Reinking is accused of killing four people and injuring four more at the Antioch Waffle House in the early morning hours of April 22.  

The lawsuit mentions that Illinois State Police revoked Travis Reinking’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) in August 2017. Illinois residents who own firearms are required to have one. 

It was revoked a month after Reinking crossed a security barrier at the White House. On July 7, 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking outside the White House grounds on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

According to court records, Reinking approached a Secret Service agent, saying he had to get into the White House to speak to President Donald Trump. He refused to leave and tried to walk past the security barrier, saying, “Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have to.”  

RELATED: Phone calls made by murder suspect Travis Reinking laced with delusions, rage

After that incident, the FBI coordinated with Illinois State Police and Tazewell County authorities to revoke Reinking’s FOID card. He owned four weapons, including a Kimber 9mm handgun, Bushmaster AR-15, CZ-USA .22 rifle, and a Remington 710, plus ammunition.    

On Aug. 24, 2017, Travis Reinking gave up his four weapons to the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department.  

According to records, the department released the weapons to Reinkings’ father, Jeffrey Reinking, who holds a valid FOID card. He was advised to “keep the weapons secure and away from Travis.”   

The lawsuit states Jeffrey Reinking gave the guns back to his son, including the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Waffle House shooting, knowing his son’s mental state could deteriorate at any time.  

MORE: Who is accused Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking?

It says Jeffrey Reinking knew his son had threatened an employee with the AR-15 and that law enforcement had advised his father and sister to lock up the guns away from Travis. 

Travis Reinking was well known to the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois, first having delusions involving Taylor Swift before he showed up at a construction site with an AR-15, which is when the sheriff’s department advised members of the Reinking family to take away Travis’ guns and lock them up until he got some help.   

The lawsuit asks for a judgment against Jeffrey Reinking in an amount more than $50,000, plus court costs and a trial by jury.  

Christian Perez, Joseph Perez Jr’s brother, filed the lawsuit on behalf of his parents who live in Texas. He did not want to comment on the lawsuit but said his parents were in town to receive the GoFundMe money that James Shaw, Jr. helped raise for the Waffle House victims’ families. 

The ATF had said that Jeffrey Reinking could face state or federal charges but so far, none have been filed. 

Late Tuesday afternoon, an attorney for the Reinkings released a statement that read, “The Reinking family has learned that a lawsuit for money damages has been filed by the family of Joe Perez, Jr., who tragically lost his life in the Waffle House shooting in Tennessee. Numerous members of the press have requested comment on the newly filed suit. We respectfully decline to comment at this time.”

A visitor log where Travis Reinking is being housed, shows he has been visited by attorneys and law enforcement. 

On May 12, the 29-year-old refused a visit from his parents. 

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