Waffle House shooting suspect sent delusional text messages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The man accused of killing four people in a Nashville Waffle House used to send his father text messages in which he punctuated everyday chitchat with delusional rants.

Police say the 29-year-old Reinking was nearly naked, only wearing a green jacket, when he opened fire outside the restaurant on April 22 and then stormed inside. Police have said there would have been far more casualties if it weren’t for a quick-thinking restaurant patron who wrestled the AR-15 rifle away from the gunman.

By the time of the shooting, Reinking’s erratic behavior had already come to the attention of law enforcement, including the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois, where he lived part-time.

According to several incident reports, Reinking believed the singer Taylor Swift was stalking and harassing him, including hacking into his computer and phone. He believed the police and his family were part of the conspiracy, and his delusions went back to at least August 2014.

The texts between father and son that were filed as evidence in federal court this week begin in April 2017, just a year before the shooting, as Reinking discussed making money by selling a patent. Friendly back-and-forth texts about work and dinner continued until May 21, 2017, when Reinking told his father he was going to start keeping his phone off most of the time and would go to the library when he wanted to use the internet.

A few minutes later he wrote that he was “thinking about going to the ball diamonds to practice later. U want to come.”

On May 23, 2017, Reinking wrote, “These people told me that you guys signed a non disclosure agreement, to hide it from me. If your helping them, please stop no matter what it cost you. I don’t think you fully realize what these people have been doing to me. … These people tried to kill me.”

A few weeks later, his father texted him about a job and he texted back, “You’re going to hell for what you are doing. Don’t say nobody warned you. You are the same type of people who nailed Jesus to the cross. They acted out of fear because of what they didn’t understand.”

But the next day he sent a text that read, “Their is a red jeep Cherokee for sale at the corner of Baer and 9 right now for 6k. Looks newer and nice.”

On June 23, 2017, Reinking texted that he was moving out of state for work, “So you don’t have to worry about me ever again.”

In July 2017, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service at the White House, where officials say he was seeking an audience with President Trump, but he was soon released. No texts refer to the arrest.

On July 31, 2017, Reinking apologized to his father for “venting,” writing, “I feel terrible if I’m accusing you of something your not involved in. I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

But the following day he sent a long, profanity-laced rant calling his father a “psychopath” and writing, “You are actively assaulting me, with organized crime, and then being dishonest about doing it.”

A week later, he sent a text about insurance for a truck.

On Nov. 12, 2017, Reinking sent the message, “Dad, I got a place out of town now, I’m going to need to get my firearms back from you somehow.”

Jeffrey Reinking had stored his son’s rifles and handgun in his gun safe after state police revoked Travis Reinking’s Illinois firearms owner identification. The official reason for the revocation was that he was a non-resident, although officials have said the action came at the request of federal agents after the White House arrest.

At least three separate lawsuits by family members of the victims fault Jeffrey Reinking for negligence because he returned the guns to his son.

Jeffrey Reinking’s attorney said in a deposition filed on Monday that a criminal investigation of the matter is ongoing. But the document also says Reinking did not believe he had the authority to keep his son’s guns once Travis Reinking demanded them back.

City to pay $480G in medical costs for suspect injured after allegedly shooting police officer: reports

Taxpayers in Omaha, Neb., will pay nearly $480,000 in medical bills for a suspect whom police wounded with gunfire after he allegedly shot an officer on Sept. 11, city council members decided this week in a 6-1 vote.

The officers struck suspect John Ezell Jr., 36, multiple times after he fired at Omaha Police Gang Unit Officer Ken Fortune, 42, striking the officer in a shoulder, during a traffic stop in the city, authorities said, according to Omaha’s FOX 42.

The officer recovered quickly and was soon released from a hospital, but the suspect spent about a month recuperating, racking up medical bills totaling $479,341.25, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The city initially agreed to pay half the cost, with Ezell responsible for the remaining $239,670.63. But Tuesday’s vote means the city will pick up the suspect’s share as well, the newspaper reported.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a number of council members who will hold their nose and vote for it,” City Council President Ben Gray told the paper prior to the vote. “I’m going to be one of them. We’re obligated to do it.”

The city is constitutionally required to provide medical treatment to those who need it while in police custody, Assistant City Attorney Jeff Bloom told the World-Herald. Ezell had no health insurance, and was not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, the report said.

The fact that Ezell was injured by police makes the city liable to cover the costs, Bloom said.

Some city council members were still displeased despite approving Ezell’s medical bill.

“I think this is unfathomable that we are doing this,” council member Brinker Harding told Omaha’s KETV-TV. “I understand we have to do it, but I think this is something we should think of when we’re talking with our state senators and working something through the unicameral so situations like this are not at the expense of our taxpayers.”

Council member Vinny Palmero, however, cast the lone vote against paying Ezell’s medical bill.

“If police are acting within good faith and not in a reckless manner, as this particular case was, then we as a city should not be liable,” Palmero told the station.

Ezell, a reputed gang member, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, assault on an officer and other charges, according to court records. He was being held on $3 million bail, the World-Herald reported.

Newt Gingrich: First Step Act vote shows Trump, Democrats and Republicans can work together

Senate passage of the First Step Act criminal justice reform bill on Tuesday was an important milestone to show the American people that the Trump White House, Republicans and Democrats can work together for the good of the country.

The bill sailed to passage with an overwhelmingly bipartisan 87-12 vote in the Senate. This could never have happened without the constant, steady leadership of Jared Kushner and his team in the White House; Republicans in the House and Senate; and the army of groups advocating for criminal justice reform. These groups included Right on Crime, FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union, #cut50 and many others.

To be sure, this bill does not solve all of the problems in our federal prison system – there is still plenty of work to do – but it will bring about some important improvements that can lead to even more reforms, lower prison costs and safer communities.

First, this bill will create a system by which federal inmates will be assessed for their risks and needs – both when they get to prison and throughout their sentences. These assessments will focus on determining the risk level that each inmate will recidivate – or commit more crimes upon his or her release.

The assessments will also ascertain behavioral, health, educational and other needs of inmates to address other potential problems. This could drastically reduce the national recidivism rate by helping more prisoners to actually rehabilitate while they are incarcerated.

Under the bill, the Second Chance Act will also be reauthorized. This law provides grants for programs for drug treatment, vocational treatment, mentoring and other re-entry and recidivism reduction initiatives.

Further, these changes will help the federal Bureau of Prisons learn what programing works best for inmates on a system-wide basis. Inmates who qualify will be incentivized to complete these programs through a number of opportunities, most notably through earned-time credits.

These credits will allow low- and minimum-risk inmates (who have not committed a disqualifying crime) to finish the remainder of their sentences in halfway houses, home confinement or supervised release.

The Bureau of Prisons and the Government Accountability Office will regularly track this system to ensure it is operating as the law intended.

Another aspect of this bill will fix well-intended but damaging decisions of the past. The so-called “three strikes” law will be changed so it applies only to serious drug felons and serious violent felons – rather than anyone charged with trafficking drugs.

The mandatory minimum sentence enhancement for a “second strike” will be lowered from 20 years to 15 years, and the “third strike” will be reduced from a mandatory minimum of a life sentence to 25 years. Importantly, the bill will make the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive for those trapped by disproportionately high sentences related to crack cocaine.

These much-needed reforms have been debated and considered for more than a decade. They are now very close to becoming reality.

When the First Step Act clears the House as expected and President Trump signs it into law – as he has pledged to do – it will be a very important day for his administration and all Americans.