- - Thursday, April 26, 2018


Another mass shooting took place last weekend, allegedly by a mentally disturbed young man with an AR-15 rifle given to him by his father.

Travis Reinking, 29, who walked into a Waffle House on the outskirts of Nashville early Sunday morning, is being charged with killing four people and wounding four others before he fled the premises after a brave young man lunged at him, seized his rifle and saved the lives of the other customers and restaurant employees.

He was captured Monday by police after a 35-hour manhunt. The four victims were in their 20s, and were either black or Hispanic. Mr. Reinking is white.

But for the bravery of James Shaw, who disarmed the shooter, this could have been a much worse episode of mass carnage, that has become increasingly frequent in America over the past several decades.

Nevertheless, it was a grim reminder of indiscriminate, mass shootings in the past, with the same violent and deadly characteristics:

A mentally delusional, angry man who had frequent run-ins with the law, and a trail of bizarre behavior that should have led to his commitment at a mental hospital, but who, for the most part, went untreated.

“We have a man who has exhibited significant instability, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

After relocating to Tazewell County in Illinois, Mr. Reinking was described by the sheriff’s department as someone who was hostile to the police, had thought about suicide, and said his parents were harassing him.

Worried about their son’s frequent troubles, his parents called police, telling them that Mr. Reinking had been delusional since August 2014.

According to police records, Mr. Reinking claims that he has talked with singer Taylor Swift, who once demanded a rendezvous with him, and, he told police, she was stalking and harassing him.

Last July he attempted to get onto the White House grounds, before being seized by the Secret Service. On another occasion, the police in Illinois were informed that he had an AR-15 rifle in the trunk of his car.

The police revoked his gun license and ordered that the rifle and three other guns be signed over to his father, Jeffrey Reinking, on Aug. 24, 2017. But the father told the police that he later returned the guns to his son, including the AR-15 rifle used in Sunday’s shooting.

This story, along with so many other mass shootings, raises profound questions about what if anything we can do to prevent them, or at least significantly reduce their number.

Many, if not most, of these mass shootings are carried out by mentally ill people who exhibit delusional, angry behavior. They need to be committed under a court order to mental hospitals.

Often, however, these are cases that the police are ill-equipped to deal with. We need to totally overhaul our law enforcement procedures to provide police with the tools and mental health physicians to ensure that such people get the treatment, medication and facilities they need to keep them from harming others.

It has been widely reported that the number of state mental hospitals has sharply declined, leaving few if any enforcement options to deal with such cases before they become crimes.

A special court system needs to be created, state by state, to hear and adjudicate such cases, and, if needed, get them the treatment they require.

In June 2017, Mr. Reinking was taken to a hospital to be evaluated after he dived into a pool wearing a housecoat, then removed it, wearing only his underwear, and began yelling at lifeguards and showed them his private parts.

In a police report to “show the state of mind of Travis Reinking,” the police “contacted Mr. Reinking’s father, telling him “he might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets mental help, which he stated he would,” The New York Times reported.

But Mr. Reinking’s delusions grew worse, telling police that “20 to 30 people were hacking into his phone and computer. And that he could hear people outside his home barking like dogs.”

Travis Reinking didn’t get the medical help he needed and now four people are dead.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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