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Tennessee police spoke with accused Waffle House shooter 2 months before murders

Travis Reinking. (WZTV | Metropolitan Nashville Police Department)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - The man charged with killing four people at an Antioch Waffle House had a previous run-in with police in Alcoa, Tennessee.

According to an incident report taken Feb. 23 by Alcoa police, a woman staying at the Alcoa Inn with her two children was allegedly threatened by Travis Reinking.

According to the report, the woman says she was in her room trying to put her two sons to bed when she heard a man yelling loudly outside. The woman opened the door and asked the man --identified as Reinking -- "Would you be quiet? My sons are trying to sleep."

The woman says Reinking replied, "I can be as loud as I want!" He then allegedly charged at her and entered her hotel room doorway. Once inside, he allegedly balled up a fist as if he were going to hit the woman.

Police body camera footage shows Samantha Veals describing the incident with Reinking.

"I came out here to my car and this man down here was running up the top and then down here, screaming at everyone's door, telling them he'll make as much noise as he wants,” Veals said. “And I looked at him, I said I have kids and they're getting ready for bed, and he was right there at that white truck, literally ran into our hotel and tried to hit me, acted like he was going to put his hands on me."

The woman say she screamed slightly out of fear and Reinking laughed before exiting the room. While being interviewed by police, the woman's children made comments about the "bad man" and the man who "came in here."

Reinking told officers he was in town for construction work and he was yelling because he had "had enough" of people at the hotel causing disturbances and yelling through the night. Reinking explained he wanted "to show them what it's like," but denied ever entering the woman's room.

In the video, he explained to an officer that he was trying to figure out who had been knocking on his room’s window.

“And they do this just to harass me, and several nights in a row, and I got sick of it, so I went out, I’m walking up and down the porch, making noise, because I don’t like it. I don’t like sh** like that, and I want other people to understand how it feels, when people are just being loud and noisy for no f***ing reason.”

Reinking told police he was getting a refund for the hotel and was looking for another place to stay for the duration of his stay for work. The responding officer told the victim he could not arrest Reinking due to state law but took the incident report at the woman's request.

The report is just the latest revelation of Reinking's contact with multiple law enforcement agencies. In 2017, Reinking was arrested by Washington, D.C., police for unlawful entry onto White House grounds.

In 2016, he was also taken for evaluation in Tazwell County, Illinois, for suicidal concerns due to statements made to his family and delusions he was being stalked by pop star Taylor Swift.

In the week leading up to the mass shooting, Reinking is believed to have stolen a new BMW from a Brentwood dealership, leading police on a brief chase.

Reinking is currently being held on four counts of criminal homicide and unlawful gun possession in the commission of a violent felony.

Nashville defense attorney David Raybin is not connected to the case in any way but says most of Reinking’s previous behavior could not have kept him locked up.

“Most of these things are perceived by law enforcement as mental health problems, properly so,” Raybin said. “Very few of these things would land you in jail, and if so, perhaps only for a few days.”

Raybin said Reinking’s only defense could be insanity.

“I’ve handled many mental health cases before, and I’ve had very few acquittals by reason of insanity in my career, because it’s so difficult, juries have a hard time accepting it, and the burden of establishing insanity is extremely high,” Raybin said.

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