A tragic attack in Tennessee has left four people dead and the suspected killer on the loose … but that might not be the most disturbing part.
Details about the Sunday morning shooting at a Nashville-area Waffle House restaurant are still forthcoming. However, several media outlets have reported a fact that gives this crime something in common with other shocking incidents: Federal law enforcement may have had warning flags in advance.
According to WPEC News, the 29-year-old suspect, Travis Reinking, had a “prior run-in with the FBI.” This strongly suggests that he was on the radar of law enforcement recently.
“He is known to both local police in Illinois and the FBI, authorities have said,” the news site Heavy.com confirmed.
On Sunday afternoon, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron indicated why that may have been so.
Aaron told reporters that Reinking “was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for being in a restricted area near the White House in July of 2017,” according to Fox News.
As of 3:30 PM Eastern time, Reinking was still on the run in the Nashville area and a massive manhunt was underway.
Authorities say that after pulling up to a Waffle House in the early morning hours, the suspected shooter stepped out of his truck and opened fire at patrons. During a pause in the shooting, a heroic bystander named James Shaw Jr. jumped in to fight the shooter. He managed to pull the shooter’s rifle away and toss it behind the counter.
The attacker then fled on foot, leaving a jacket behind and bizarrely escaping naked.
“Of the eight people taken to the hospital in the shooting, six had gunshot wounds,” WPEC reported. “Three died at the scene, a fourth at the hospital. The victims have not been identified. The heroic patron, described as a 29-year-old man, suffered an elbow injury in his attempt to stop the gunman.”
If it is confirmed that the FBI had some reason to suspect that the shooter was preparing to act, then this crime could be compared to several other recent tragedies.
The most recent, of course, is the Parkland school shooting, where the deranged teenager who pulled the trigger had been contacted by police many times, and the FBI received several tips and warnings but acted too slowly to prevent the tragedy.
“Missed signals at some level of the federal government or other public agencies preceded mass shootings at Sutherland Springs, Texas (25 killed), Charleston (nine people); the Orlando nightclub (49); Fort Hood (13); San Bernardino (14) and the Boston Marathon bombing (three dead and multiple severed limbs),” The Wall Street Journal summarized.
It goes without saying that no law enforcement group can stop every crime before it is committed. That, indeed, is why the Second Amendment and civilian self-defense is so important: Police cannot be everywhere at all times.
With that said, there does seem to be an appalling record of “misses” on the FBI’s score sheet lately.
In the midst of the high-profile circus of its former director squabbling with the president and now doing a book tour, along with evidence of partisan favoritism by the bureau’s investigators, it’s worth asking if political distractions have become a problem at America’s top law enforcement agency.
After every tragic crime, the country should ask tough questions about how it happened and how authorities handled the situation. Many more facts will no doubt emerge soon.
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