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‘But Kyle’s Mother …’: Father Sentenced to 18 Months for Giving Son Weapon Used in Nashville Waffle House Shooting Has Some Questioning Punishment for Rittenhouse’s Parents  

An Illinois judge sentenced a man to a year and a half in prison after he illegally gave his son an assault-style weapon later used in a 2018 mass shooting in a Nashville eatery.

The father was convicted because the son was not eligible to handle or own a firearm because he had been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Jeffrey Reinking, the father of Travis Reinking, was sentenced by Tazewell County Chief Judge Chris Doscotch on March 3 to 18 months in prison for illegally providing his son with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Waffle House shooting
Jeffrey Reinking’s son, Travis Reinking is accused of a mass shooting at an Illinois Waffle House that killed four people. (Photos: YouTube screenshot/SMV 4 Nashville)

Travis used the weapon on April 22, 2018, to kill four people and injured three at the Antioch Waffle House in Nashville around 3:20 a.m. that morning, Journal Star reports. The senior Reinking was convicted in a bench trial before Doscotch in May of last year.

The crime is a Class 4 felony, which mandates the prison sentence must be between one to three years— and possibly include a fine of $25,000. The judge gave the middle ground sentence because the Reinking family currently fosters a 14-year-old child. However, Doscotch denied a lesser probation sentence for the Morton, Illinois, man.

“Giving an AR-15 rifle to a person like Travis Reinking can have deadly consequences, just as we have seen,” the judge said.

The judge gave the 59-year-old 90 days for his lawyers to prepare an appeal.

This is a likely decision as Kevin Sullivan, Jeffrey Reinking’s attorney, argued during the trial his client had no idea the Illinois gun privileges were revoked because his son underwent treatment in a hospital for his mental issues. He believed the Illinois gun license was revoked because his son was no longer living in the state, a contention backed by records uncovered by the Peoria Journal Star, the newspaper reported.

“Travis is his son, but Travis is not a child. When this took place, Travis Reinking made his own decision. Jeffrey Reinking was simply holding the firearms until Travis Reinking wanted them back,” Reinking’s current defense attorney, Michael Doubet, said.

The elder Reinking was convicted of the illegal delivery of a firearm to a person who had been treated for mental illness within the past five years.

The Tazewell County Circuit Clerk’s office stated the father will self-surrender to the county jail, where he will stay until June. Reinking will then be transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The father was convicted months after his son was found guilty of 16 counts associated with the Waffle House massacre, including first-degree murder for the four individuals who lost their lives: Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29; Joe R. Perez, 20; DeEbony Groves, 21; and Akilah DaSilva, 23.

Some of those charges considered three others who were wounded during the shooting where he unleashed 30 rounds of ammunition in the restaurant.

Travis Reinking was sentenced to life in prison without a chance at parole.

Though the young man admitted in Tennessee court in a February 2022 trial presided over by Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn that he was the shooter, he attempted to use an insanity plea.

Lawyers tried to point to his history of mental illness to support that defense.

In 2016, Travis Reinking told police and fire personnel while he was having a manic episode that he believed Taylor Swift was stalking him. He also told the officer that the singer had hacked into his phone. Police reports state the young man was moved from the CVS pharmacy parking lot in Morton, where they encountered him and transported him to a Peoria hospital called UnityPoint Health-Methodist, where he was evaluated for seven days.

In another incident, WCBU reports Travis Reinking arrived at a Tremont, Illinois, public pool dressed in a pink frock, and jumped into the water. He then yelled obscenities and exposed himself to those around him.

The following year, in 2017, the Illinois State Police revoked his firearm owner’s identification card, and he had to turn over all of the guns he had in his possession to his father.

The trial proved that the father returned the firearms to his son in 2018 when the younger Reinking decided to move to Tennessee. After he was in possession of his weapons again, including the AR-15 assault-style rifle he used in the massacre, he shot up the Waffle House.

At trial, the judge was persuaded that Jeffrey Reinking was aware that his son was treated for mental illness in 2016 but still gave him the weapons.

The case, which garnered the national spotlight because of the mass shooting drew reactions on social media.

“If more people are held liable for what part they play in shootings, we’d probably have less shootings,” wrote Twitter user @StPeteMomma.

“This is a good precedent. Make sure all conservative parents know about this,” wrote Twitter user @SpryOld.

Some questioned why other Kyle Rittenhouse, who admitted to arming himself with an  AR-15 and traveling from Illinois to Wisconsin to protect local businesses. He killed two protesters and paralyzed one.

“But Kyle’s mother…you know what, nvm,” wrote Kiki Threatt on Facebook.

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