The man charged with killing four people in a Nashville-area Waffle House over the weekend had displayed unnerving behavior in the past but did not seem violent, some of his former co-workers told police this week.
The recollections from people who knew Travis Reinking while he worked for a Colorado crane company further add to the portrait that has emerged of the 29-year-old, who had set off alarms after encounters with law enforcement officials in Illinois and the District. Authorities said they tried to have his guns taken away, but police say that despite that action and a history of red flags, Reinking was able to storm into the Waffle House early Sunday morning wielding an AR-15 assault-style rifle and open fire on apparent strangers.
Reinking was apprehended by police on Monday afternoon following a 34-hour manhunt. He has been charged with four counts of homicide and, late Tuesday, officials added another four counts of attempted homicide as well as a firearms charge. Police said he declined to speak to officers after his arrest and that the motive remained “undetermined” in the case. A public defender assigned to represent Reinking did not respond to requests for comment.
The former co-workers recalled Reinking as an intelligent loner who appeared to be delusional, obsessed with the pop star Taylor Swift and mentally unwell, echoing details that had emerged in police reports filed by authorities in Illinois before and after Reinking’s time in Colorado.
Reinking lived in Salida, Colo., a small city about 100 miles west of Colorado Springs, from August 2016 until March or April 2017, police said. During that period, Reinking worked at Rocky Mountain Crane Service, which is described on its website as a small, family-owned business founded by Ken and Darlene Sustrich, a husband and wife. Reinking had also worked for his father’s construction company, according to a neighbor of his family in Illinois.
Ken Sustrich told police this week that Reinking worked for his company for about seven months, describing him as a good worker who made worrisome comments, according to a police report filed this week by a Salida police detective.
Sustrich described Reinking as “a very intelligent, polite and nice person” who also “exhibited signs of being paranoid and delusional at times,” the detective wrote. He also recalled that Reinking had told people he was going to marry Swift, said he was being harassed and stalked by her, and claimed to have bought a $14,000 ring for the pop star, the report said.
A mechanic at the company, who said he hosted Reinking at his home during the holidays, recalled that Reinking did not seem to have hobbies beyond playing video games, nor did he appear to have any friends. He also recounted Reinking’s apparent focus on Swift.
Reinking played with the mechanic’s children and seemed fine with them, the police report said, and “never exhibited any signs of being violent.”
The mechanic also told police that Reinking “believed he was a sovereign citizen” who said he “disliked the government” and the National Rifle Association, the report said, though it did not elaborate. When Reinking was arrested outside the White House in July for trying to cross a security barrier, he declared himself “a sovereign citizen” who was trying to speak with President Trump, according to a D.C. police report.
Darlene Sustrich told Salida police this week that Reinking “was quiet and did not appear to be a violent person,” wrote the detective, who said he was asked to speak to company personnel by an agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Ken and Darlene Sustrich did not respond to messages seeking comment this week. Darlene Sustrich told the Associated Press that after Reinking was arrested near the White House, she was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service and that she told them: “Hang onto him if you can. Help him if you can.”
Police records in Salida show that Reinking had one encounter with law enforcement officials while he lived there. Reinking called police there in March 2017 to complain that he was “being harassed/stalked on the internet and around town by Taylor Swift,” according to a call record. Police said this week the call was cleared with no report filed.
The police report from Colorado comes as records from Illinois alleged that Reinking told police Swift was stalking him, that he tried to pick a fight with lifeguards at the local pool and that he went to the offices of his father’s construction business with a rifle, shouting expletives before driving away.
In one report, an officer said Reinking’s father, Jeffrey Reinking, had told police he took away his son’s three rifles and a handgun before returning them. An officer wrote that he later called Jeffrey Reinking and told him that “when he gets back home, he might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets mental help which he stated he would.”
After the younger Reinking quit his job with the Colorado crane company last year, Ken Sustrich called Jeffrey Reinking to say he was worried about his son’s mental health, the Salida police report said. Sustrich told police that Jeffrey Reinking said he was aware of his son’s mental issues, the report stated.
After Reinking’s arrest in Washington, the FBI investigated him, and the Illinois State Police asked the local sheriff’s office to take away an identification card allowing him to possess guns and ammunition. The FBI was neutralizing “what we felt was the threat at the time by ensuring that he did not have the ability to purchase or own weapons and that those weapons were taken,” Matthew E. Espenshade, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis division, told reporters Monday.
Reinking signed his four guns over to his father, state records show, but police say Jeffrey Reinking has acknowledged returning the guns.
Attempts to reach Jeffrey Reinking this week have been unsuccessful, and people who answered the door and the phone at homes registered to the family have declined to comment. Federal officials say the elder Reinking could face criminal charges for the transfer.
Alice Crites and Julie Tate contributed to this report.