KUSA — The man suspected of opening fire at a Tennessee Waffle House early Sunday morning and killing four people displayed signs of mental illness and was known to own four guns during the just over six months he lived in Colorado.
According to a police report obtained by 9Wants to Know, 29-year-old Travis Reinking called Salida police on March 18, 2017 and claimed that pop star Taylor Swift was harassing him both online and “around town.”
“It kind of took me back, little bit shocked,” said Salida Police Chief Terry Clark, about hearing his town had a connection to the suspected shooter, “But in a way not totally surprised, sometimes it is a small world. Little bit stunned anyway.”
Clark said an investigator with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation requested Salida police interview people who knew the suspected shooter. He directed investigator Detective Sergeant Rob Martellaro to do the leg work.
“Will it help solve the case there in Tennessee, probably not on that,” Clark said. “But I think it does give a good background on maybe what the individual was like, maybe what his thought processes were like.”
The suspect's former coworkers described him as a “loner” who didn’t seem to have any friends while he lived in Salida, which was from August 2016 to March or April 2017.
Reinking worked as a crane operator for Rocky Mountain Crane just outside of Salida from Aug. 15, 2016 to March 25, 2017, the police report says. A former coworker of his told 9NEWS Monday that Reinking worked for another crane company on a project in Denver, but was fired after just one day.
Ken Sustrich, Reinking’s boss at Rocky Mountain Crane, told police that he was a “good worker and was an ‘excellent’ crane operator,” according to the report. However, Sustrich also claimed he exhibited signs of being paranoid and was delusional at times.
According to the report, Reinking was “infatuated” with Swift and allegedly purchased a $14,000 ring for her – and had even driven to California to try and meet her.
Sustrich says he also claimed that Swift was harassing and stalking him, and that he quit the crane company because he was paranoid police were following him and it was his last chance to marry the pop star.
After he quit, Sustrich told police he called Reinking’s father to express concerns about his former employee’s mental health. He says the shooting suspect’s father told him he was aware of his son’s mental issues and was working to rekindle their relationship.
Reinking would eventually return to his home in Illinois.
Sustrich said he didn’t hear anything about Reinking again until August 2017, when he was arrested for trying to trespass at the White House. That’s when the Tazewell County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office took the then-28-year-old’s four weapons: an AR-15, a 9mm handgun and two hunting rifles, according to previous reports.
Those firearms were transferred to Reinking’s father – and law enforcement officials believe he may have turned them back over to his son, USA TODAY reports.
John Turley, who also worked with Reinking at Rocky Mountain Crane, told Salida police that his former coworker “never exhibited any signs of being violent” despite his known mental health issues and dislike for both the government and the National Rifle Association.
Turley told police he knew Reinking had two rifles and two pistols when he lived in Salida, and that he didn’t have many hobbies other than video games – including some where shooting guns was involved.
Turley said he tried to call Reinking after he left Salida but never heard back.
Darlene Sustrich also works at Rocky Mountain Crane, and said she last heard from Reinking a month ago when he was trying to get his W-2. According to the report, Darlene Sustrich says Reinking told her he was working at a warehouse in Nashville and told he was doing “good and seemed alright.”
“The biggest take way I had is, it appeared he was a pretty quiet guy, nice enough, he kept to himself but really did have some clear mental issues,” Detective Sergeant Rob Martellaro said. “Knowing that as he was working here and certainly after he left and under the conditions he left at.”
Reinking was arrested for his alleged role in the Waffle House shooting after a 34-hour manhunt Monday in a wooded area less than a mile from the crime scene.
He is being jailed in Tennessee without bond.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Tennessee, victims, families, law enforcement that’s dealing with that disaster,” Chief Clark said. "It’s a disaster in my book. Four people gunned down and others injured. It seems like a disaster.”
The deadly shooting occurred at a Waffle House in the southeast corner of Nashville at around 3:25 a.m. Sunday.