UPDATE: Police Said Man Accused of Death Threats Appeared to be Targeting Homeless
A train engineer accused of threatening to kill three men in Ames last week appeared to be seeking out homeless people, police say.
Ames police believe that a man charged with multiple counts of first-degree harassment and aggravated assault for allegedly threatening to kill three men appeared to be targeting homeless people.
Michael Nootz, 55, allegedly confronted three men on the afternoon of July 1 in areas where homeless people are known to set up camps, said Ames Police Cmdr. Jim Robinson.
Two of the three men were homeless while a third man was threatened outside his workplace.
According to complaints, Nootz pointed a gun at the men and said he would kill them if they didn't leave the county.
Nootz has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault and three counts of first-degree harassment. Aggravated assault and first-degree harassment are aggravated misdemeanors. Nootz had been held in Story County Jail on bond and has since been released.
According to a report in the Ames Tribune, Nootz reportedly gave the two homeless men printouts with information about a train gang called “Freight Train Riders of America” and a section of the Iowa Code that states that it's legal to shoot stray dogs without tags.
Robinson had not seen the paperwork on the Freight Train Riders group but said that Nootz had reported to police recently that he thought members of the group were in Ames. Robinson said that he has heard of the group before but has never known them to be in Ames. He said the group is known to travel the country by railway and are not paying customers.
He said he did not know whether Nootz thought the men he allegedly threatened were members of the group or not. Complaints said that Nootz told the men that he didn't like homeless people or hobos before making the threats.