The family of one of the four people killed in last month’s shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the accused shooter’s father, saying he improperly gave his son access to weapons.
In a complaint dated Monday, the family of Joe Perez said Jeffrey Reinking “voluntarily” gave weapons to his son Travis, despite having promised the sheriff’s office in Tazewell County, Illinois, where the Reinkings live, he would not because the state had revoked Travis’ right to own firearms.
The family also said Jeffrey Reinking knew his son’s mental health was unpredictable, and that giving the 29-year-old construction worker weapons such as the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle used in the April 22 attack jeopardized the safety of others.
Through his agreement with the sheriff’s office, Jeffrey Reinking owed a duty to Waffle House customers and staff to take “reasonable steps” to keep weapons away from his son, and “negligently breached” that duty by providing access to the AR-15, the complaint said.
A lawyer for Jeffrey Reinking did not immediately respond on Tuesday to a request for comment.
Joe Perez was 20 when he died. Christian Perez, who oversees his brother’s estate, filed the lawsuit on behalf of their parents, Joe Sr. and Patricia, and is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
Travis Reinking had a history of troubled behavior before his suspected attack.
He had tried last July to gain access to the White House, and once believed that pop singer Taylor Swift was stalking him.
“The family of Joey Perez wants to understand the events giving rise to this senseless tragedy,” the family’s lawyer John Day said in a statement. “Part of that inquiry requires learning how—and why—Travis Reinking came to possess the AR-15 assault rifle.”
Travis Reinking was arrested after a 36-hour manhunt, and charged with four counts of murder.
Bond was set at $2 million, but quickly revoked after a public outcry.
The case is Perez v Reinking, Tazewell County Circuit Court of Illinois, No. 2018L55.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker