A man who feared that members of the Freight Train Riders of America gang had a presence in Ames and who launched a write-in campaign for Story County Sheriff's Office was taken into custody Thursday and is apparently undergoing a court-ordered mental evaluation, according to his family.
Michael Ray Nootz, 56, was charged with first-degree harassment and assault while displaying a weapon last July for allegedly threatening homeless men and one other man in Ames.
Ames Police Commander Jim Robinson said Ames police took Nootz into custody at the Ace Hardware store Thursday afternoon on a court-ordered pickup.
Nootz's wife, Jody Nootz, said her husband's mental state is being evaluated in a Cedar Rapids hospital.
“They must of thought he was crazy running for sheriff,” Jody Nootz said of her husband.
Jody Nootz said she has been told that law enforcement ordered the evaluation after employees at JAX Outdoor Store told police that Jody and Michael Nootz purchased a shotgun and .22 gauge rifle from the store on Wednesday.
Jody Nootz said police seized those guns Thursday after taking her husband into custody.
Robinson couldn't discuss details, but said an active investigation is ongoing.
A jury trial in Nootz's harassment and assault case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 27 at the Story County Courthouse in Nevada.
According to initial reports from July, Nootz allegedly threatened two homeless men and a third man and also gave them documents about the Freight Train Gang Riders of America and a section of the Iowa Code saying it was legal to kill stray, untagged dogs six months or older and told them to leave the area.
Nootz, an engineer with Union Pacific, has said he was searching for members of a gang that illegally rides train cars and had dogs with them, but he said he didn't find them and didn't threaten the men's lives as they have alleged.
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