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Slain Waffle House Victim's Brother Sues Alleged Shooter's Father

  • May 18, 2020
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NASHVILLE, TN — Early on the morning of April 22, Abede DaSilva held his brother Akilah, a shot during the rampage at the Antioch Waffle House. He went with him to the hospital and watched him die.

In a heart-wrenching message in the program for Akilah’s May 5 memorial service, Abede wrote he knew his brother’s spirit was working, but begged to hear that everything would be OK.

“I’m so sorry for not protecting you,” Abede wrote. “I wish I could take your place … I will fight my whole life for your justice.”

Late Thursday, Abede DaSilva filed a $20 million federal lawsuit against Jeffrey Reinking, the father of alleged gunman Travis Reinking, claiming negiligent infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

Similar to the suit filed in Davidson County Circuit Court Wednesday by Shaundelle Brooks, DaSilva’s mother, Abede DaSilve says Jeffrey allegedly returned several guns – including the AR-15 investigators say was used at Waffle House – to his son despite his “actual knowledge that his son was mentally unstable and posed a severe risk of harm,” according to the suit. Travis Reinking, who faces four murder charges in the April 22 rampage, is not a defendant in the federal suit; he is named in Brooks’ suit.

“As a result of Jeffrey Reinking’s gross negligence, Akilah DaSilva was brutally and senselessly murdered. Akilah’s older brother, Abede DaSilva—who narrowly avoided being killed by Travis Reinking himself—held Akilah while he bled out, screaming in pain, and ultimately watched him die,” the suit, filed by Nashville attorneys Daniel Horwitz and Brian Manookian, says, in part.

The crux of the suit is that Jeffrey Reinking knew that the Bushmaster XM-15 rifle is a deadly weapon capable of killing numerous people quickly and that he knew his son was “mentally unstable” due to numerous documented encounters with police in their hometown of Morton, Ill., as well as the United States Secret Service.

The suit claims Jeffrey Reinking had taken his son’s guns, including the Bushmaster, at least three times between 2016 and 2017 and returned them every time, despite being urged by local law enforcement to keep them locked up and away from Travis, particularly after the latter’s Illinois Firearms Owner Identification was revoked by state police at the FBI’s request following an incident at the White House, during which Reinking tried to force his way on to the grounds, claiming he had a right to inspect them because he is a “sovereign citizen.” Local sheriff’s deputies seized Travis Reinking’s weapons but then turned them over to his father as is allowed by state law. Jeffrey Reinking then reportedly turned them back over to his son before he moved to Tennessee, a state with far laxer gun laws than Illinois.

The suit claims Jeffrey Reinking was negligent because it was “foreseeable” and likely Travis Reinking would commit a violent act and that Jeffrey Reinking “took express actions to frustrate and undo the efforts of law enforcement to disarm his mentally deranged and dangerous son because doing so would promote his personal convenience.”

“Losing his brother, best friend, work partner, and someone in whom he confided—and watching that person die in front of him—left a void in Abede’s life that he will never be able to fill. Abede misses his brother dearly, and a part of him is now gone forever,” according to the suit, which claims that watching his brother die and narrowly avoiding death himself caused Abede “serious and severe emotional injury that is support by scientific proof.”

Furthermore, the suit claims Jeffrey Reinking engaged in a civil conspiracy to circumvent Illinois and federal firearms laws.

Abede DaSilva seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages.

“Out of respect for the criminal process, we will not be commenting on Travis Reinking’s case,” Horwitz said in a statement. “As to his father, however, let this lawsuit serve as a stark warning: If you entrust someone that you know to be both dangerous and mentally unstable with one of the most efficient purveyors of death in modern society, you will be held personally accountable for the consequences.”

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Photo via United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee/The DaSilva family

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