ANTIOCH, TN — Authorities remain on the hunt for Travis Reinking, 29, who they say killed four people and injured others in a Nashville-area Waffle House restaurant shooting early Sunday morning.
Police now say that Reinking believed pop star Taylor Swift had been “stalking” him for years — claiming that she had asked to meet him at a Dairy Queen and that she hacked his Netflix account and once climbed up a building to chase him.
The Waffle House shooting, which Reinking allegedly committed while nude except for a green jacket, appears to be the homicidal climax of the troubled man’s “mental health crisis” issues that have led to prior run-ins with the law.
In 2015, police picked up Reinking for swimming in a public pool in his underwear and exposing himself. A lifeguard said Reinking initially dove into the water wearing a pink dress and, from there, he challenged pool staff to come in and fight him.
Two years later, cops stopped Reinking on suspicion he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk. At the time, Reinking had on only a woman’s pink overcoat atop a pair of underpants. No charges resulted.
On July 7 of last year, the Secret Service arrested Reinking and charged him with unlawful entry “after crossing an exterior security barrier near the White House Complex.” Reinking’s license to carry firearms in Illinois was rescinded, and four guns were taken from him — including the AR-15 that was used in the Waffle House shooting — at the request of federal authorities. But Illinois authorities then gave the guns to Reinking’s father, who has reportedly admitted to giving the weapons back to his son.
Beyond the deadly horror of the mass shooting, and the heroism of James Shaw, Jr., the customer who disarmed the gunman, Reinking’s alleged “stalker” delusions also mark a bizarre trend in weird crime stories this month — the unwitting involvement of Taylor Swift. Consider the following:
• On April 5, police say Bruce Rowley, 26, robbed a bank in Connecticut, then drove to Taylor Swift’s Rhode Island home and threw the money over the fence. Authorities say Rowley was out to “impress” the performer.
• On April 8, Justin Lilly, 23, attempted to climb a wall outside Taylor Swift’s Beverly Hills home. Security guards called police and responders arrested the homeless man for trespassing. Lilly spent three days in jail on a misdemeanor.
• On April 17, police arrested Julius Sandrock, 38, of Colorado on suspicion of stalking outside the same Beverly Hills residence. Sandrock was wearing a mask and rubber gloves. A search of his vehicle turned up a knife, a rope, ammunition, and more masks and gloves. Authorities obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Sandrock from possessing firearms.
• On April 20, NYPD officers arrested Roger Alvarado, 22, of Florida after he allegedly broke a window in Taylor Swift’s Manhattan townhouse and entered the premises. Police say Alvarado then took a shower and went to sleep in Swift’s bed. Alvarado faces charges of felony stalking, along with burglary, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass.
At present, Travis Reinking remains at large, and might have a gun on his person.
Taylor Swift, understandably, has not commented on the situation.
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Main photos: Travis Reinking [Metro Nashville Police Dept]; Taylor Swift [WikiMedia Commons]