Sovereign citizens post unique threats to law enforcement in Mid-South

The man police said shot and killed four people at a Tennessee Waffle House has claimed to be a sovereign citizen.

The sovereign citizen movement is one that has gained some popularity in the Mid-South.

They have been involved in standoffs, traffic stops, and in the most notorious case in maybe U.S. history. Two sovereign citizens murdered two police officers in West Memphis

Travis Reinking is charged with murder, after police said he shot and killed four people inside an Antioch Waffle House.

It was not his first run in with law enforcement.

In a Washington D.C. arrest report from last July the 29-year-old told police he was a 'sovereign citizen and had the right to inspect the grounds.'

“I think they're very common. I think it's very active,” said Chief Bob Nations, with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Chief Nations said sovereign citizens are nothing new in our area.

He said they are best described as anti-government to an extreme.

“In other words, the US government does not hold sovereignty over them.”

In many cases that manifests itself in paper crimes, like tax evasion or squatting.

“Often times they are not going to have a driver’s license, for example, and they are not going to have insurance.”

Sometimes their actions escalate though.

“Obviously the one in West Memphis, where the two police officers were killed by the father and son. I think that has been clearly identified a sovereign citizens.”

“Do you guys keep tabs on sovereign citizens, do you know how many there are in the Mid-South," asked FOX13's Zach Crenshaw.

"No," said Nations. "We don't keep tabs on them."

The movement is significant across the country though, and gains followers through traveling informative events.

“There are somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000. But who knows.”

Chief Nations said sovereign citizens are typically no more a threat to the public than other people.

He said lone wolf actors are always something police have to be on the lookout for, and the public has to be focused on their own safety as well.

“People need to have situational awareness, tremendous situational awareness for their own safety.”

One of the most famous sovereign citizens to come through 201 Poplar is Tabitha Gentry.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2013 for squatting a multi-million-dollar mansion.