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Family of Waffle House shooting victim sues father of shooting suspect Travis Reinking

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The family of one of four people killed in an April shooting at a Nashville Waffle House is suing the father of Travis Reinking, the man accused of carrying out the attack.

The family of Joe Perez filed a civil lawsuit Monday against Jeffrey Reinking in Tazewell County, Illinois, where the Reinkings live. The lawsuit states Jeffrey Reinking is responsible in part for the attack because he gave his son several weapons, even after the state of Illinois revoked the suspected gunman's authorization to own weapons in the state.

“When (Jeffrey Reinking) was asked by the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office to take possession of Travis Reinking’s firearms, including the Bushmaster AR-15, and agreed not to allow Travis Reinking to have access to those weapons, he gratuitously assumed a duty to the community of those who came or were to come in the vicinity of Travis Reinking, including Joe R. Perez, Jr. and the other guests or workers at the Waffle House, to secure those weapons so that Travis Reinking did not have access to them,” the lawsuit states.

Through his attorney on Tuesday, Jeffrey Reinking declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Travis Reinking is accused of using the AR-15 assault-style weapon to kill four people and injure others in an early morning attack on the Waffle House. Accosted by restaurant patron James Shaw Jr. while trying to reload, Reinking fled the Waffle House on foot, according to Nashville police.

He eluded capture for 34 hours before Nashville police tracked him down in the woods, a short distance from the site of the shooting.

Joe Perez was one of four victims killed in the Waffle House shooting. Perez, 20, moved to Nashville from Texas in December to work for his brother’s new moving business.

His mother, Trisha Perez, said her son had one of those smiles that would make you “feel like everything was all right.”

After Travis Reinking was arrested, Trisha Perez said she was relieved and hoped he spent his life behind bars for the suffering he caused so many families.

The lawsuit seeks "an amount more than $50,000" in damages.

"The family of Joey Perez wants to understand the events giving rise to this senseless tragedy. Part of that inquiry requires learning how — and why — Travis Reinking came to possess the AR-15 assault rifle used to take four innocent lives and injure others," said John Day, an attorney representing the Perez family.

Jeffrey Reinking gave his son guns, but may not have violated the law

While Jeffrey Reinking admitted he provided Travis Reinking with weapons — including the rifle police believe was used in the Waffle House attack — it's unclear whether Jeffrey Reinking violated any laws.

In July 2017, Travis Reinking tried to gain access to a restricted area of the White House. It was his latest interaction with law enforcement.

After the U.S. Secret Service arrested him, the FBI worked with local Illinois authorities to revoke Travis Reinking's state-issued gun ownership authorization card.

They did not revoke the authorization due to the arrest, but rather because Travis Reinking was no longer a resident of Illinois. He'd moved to Colorado, and had a Colorado driver's license at the time.

When Illinois sheriff's deputies came to revoke Travis Reinking's gun authorization, they allowed Jeffrey Reinking to take possession of his son's four guns.

"(The father) was advised that he needed to keep the weapons secure and away from Travis. (The father) stated he would comply," reads a report from the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office.

It's unclear when, but Jeffrey Reinking did return the weapons to his son.

After Travis Reinking's arrest in Tennessee, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it did not appear he violated any gun laws in the state by owning the weapons.

Reporter Nate Rau contributed to this story.

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