Reports: TN Shooting Suspect Said He Was ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Before WH Arrest

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The man who allegedly shot and killed four young people of color in a Nashville Waffle House early Sunday identified himself as a “sovereign citizen” last year, multiple outlets reported Monday.

The outlets cited an arrest report covering the alleged gunman’s confrontation with Secret Service officers outside the White House in July of last year.

CNN and USA Today reported that the alleged gunman, Travis Reinking, told Secret Service officers that he had to get onto White House grounds to speak to President Donald Trump. The reports also said he identified himself to Secret Service as a “sovereign citizen” who had a right to access the White House grounds.

After being told to move away from the pedestrian entrance to White House grounds, according to the reports, Reinking balled his tie into his fist and approached the entrance, leading to his arrest.

“Do what you need to do. Arrest me if you have to,” he reportedly said.

USA Today’s Christal Hayes published an image of that portion of the arrest report:

Ultimately, according to CNN, Reinking entered a deferred prosecution agreement. Local police in Illinois, where he was then living, confiscated several guns from Reinking, including the AR-15 he likely allegedly used in Sunday’s shooting.

The authorities gave Reinking’s guns to his father, who later gave them back to Reinking.

Those killed in Sunday’s shooting were Joe R. Perez, 20, DeEbony Groves, 21, Akilah DaSilva, 23 and Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29.

Last June, according to police records cited by the Tennessean, Reinking threatened someone with an AR-15 and then exposed himself at a public pool.

Sovereign citizens, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.” In a 2011 law enforcement bulletin, the FBI said it considered “sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement” and counted six law enforcement officers who’d been murdered by movement adherents since 2000.

Among those offenders, according to the FBI report, were the father and son pair Jerry and Joseph Kane. During a routine traffic stop, the report said, 16-year-old Joseph “jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.”

Mark Pitcavage, a researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, cautioned that a one-off comment may not mean Reinking identifies with the larger sovereign citizen ideology.

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