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Flowers and grits as Waffle House reopens after Nashville killings– Sales to benefit victims’ families

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Officers investigate the scene of the shooting where a semi-nude gunman killed four people and wounded two others. (Metropolitan Nashville Police Department/AFP / HO)

The Waffle House restaurant in Nashville where a gunman killed four people reopened on Wednesday for the first time since the weekend attack, filling up with customers ordering breakfasts as a makeshift memorial of flowers piled up outside.

The closely held chain brought in extra staff from other locations and corporate offices to serve grits, eggs and waffles to a steady stream of customers, including many making their first visit in a display of solidarity for the victims.

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Eric Puschmann, a pastor at the nearby Free Will Baptist church, joined staff for prayers before the restaurant opened, he said.

“They have good strong hearts,” said Puschmann, 37. “There were tears of pain and tears of laughter.”

The suspect in the shooting, Travis Reinking, used an AR-15 rifle to kill two people inside and two people outside the restaurant before a bystander knocked him down, sending him fleeing, police said. Reinking, 29, was jailed on Monday after a manhunt lasting more than 30 hours. He faces charges of murder and attempted murder in court next month.

At the Waffle House, Michael Ritchey walked by the makeshift shrine outside and ordered an omelet.

“I look around and see people back here today,” said Ritchey, a 40-year-old healthcare consultant. “This is awesome. I have a lump in my throat.”

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Some patrons came because they saw the restaurant had promised to donate all proceeds made in the next 30 days to the victims’ families.

Also on Wednesday, more details emerged of the suspect’s paranoid tendencies as a Nashville computer repair store released audio of an angry phone call Reinking had with a confused customer-service representative.

Reinking already had a history of bizarre encounters with law enforcement, and relatives in his Illinois hometown and former colleagues in the crane-operator business have told police of his delusional beliefs that the singer Taylor Swift is hacking his electronics and stalking him.

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Reinking had visited the Dang It Repair store in March, saying he believed his laptop had been hacked and he had messed it up trying to fix it, the store’s owner, Robert Hartline, said in an interview on Wednesday. Staff reset the machine and returned it the next day.

Two weeks later, a man identifying himself as Reinking called back, according to a recording of the call released by the store. Reuters did not independently verify the recording’s authenticity.

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 The conversation took an unusual turn after he asked a customer representative about an issue with his laptop.
Reinking seemed to suggest the store put something on his computer.

“Why are you guys doing this, man? I don’t get it. What are you getting out of this?” he said.

“I’m not sure I understand the question,” the representative said.

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“You’re a liar,” Reinking said.

The representative suggested he bring the computer to the store.

“Yeah, well, go kill yourself then, jump off a bridge or something,” the man responds, according to the audio recording posted online by the Dang It Repair store.

 Hartline, the store owner, said the representative remembered it as the time as an odd call, but added that it was not unusual for his company to deal with customers with strange behavior.
A public defender representing Reinking has declined to comment on the case. A court hearing is scheduled for May 7.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Dan Grebler

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2020 Election

Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them

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Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.

"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.

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Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.

Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.

Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.

As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.

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2020 Election

Pepsi joins the chorus of people dunking on Tucker Carlson over Kamala Harris

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The Pepsi soda company mocked Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on Friday evening.

On Tuesday, Carlson flipped out after a guest attempted to teach him how to pronounce the name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is running for vice president on Joe Biden's ticket.

Video of the exchange was posted on Twitter by Nikki McCann Ramirez, a researcher at the watchdog group Media Matters for America.

Tucker Carlson loses it when a guest corrects his pronunciation of Kamala Harris's name pic.twitter.com/1fHIrPGuwN

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