Man accused of threatening neighbors |

Man accused of threatening neighbors

by Sheila Gardner


A 27-year-old Gardnerville Ranchos man, who reportedly asked his mother to contact sheriff’s deputies because he was afraid he was going to kill his neighbors, is being held on $5,000 cash bond.

Michael Tom is in Douglas County Jail on an allegation of threatening to commit an offense against persons or property, stemming from a March 11 call to the sheriff’s office by his mother.

When Tom was taken into custody, he was found sleeping in bed with a loaded AR-15 .223-caliber rifle.

A second rifle, a Remington 30-06 with a 3-by-9 Bushnell scope, was also found in the bedroom.

Both weapons, along with four 30-round magazines, were confiscated.

According to reports, Tom has been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, and said he heard voices in his head that told him his neighbors were out to get him.

He gave his mother a note which read, “Mom, you need to call the police. I’m seriously thinking about killing these people.”

According to court documents, threats from the neighbors were nonexistent.

Undersheriff Paul Howell, two sergeants, three deputies and an investigator responded to Tom’s residence in the 700 block of Bluerock and took him into custody without incident.

Tom told an investigator he purchased the rifles from a Reno gun store, and had “passed the Brady check.”

He reportedly had been sleeping with a loaded rifle for about a month because he said he needed protection.

Court documents indicated that after Tom was taken into custody, he was examined by jail psychologist Joseph McEllistrem who told an investigator that it was “highly probable” Tom would have acted out on his threats without intervention. The investigator concluded that Tom presented a threat, and it was their “duty and obligation to prevent future actions of violence by Michael Tom,” and that the suspect had the desire and capability of killing his neighbors.

Tom appeared Wednesday before East Fork Judge Pro Tem Paul Gilbert who appointed attorney Jamie Henry to represent him.

Prosecutor Tom Gregory said the $5,000 bond was a peace bond and the issue should be readdressed if Tom is able to post the amount.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is keep the peace, keeping everybody safe including the defendant,” Gregory said Wednesday.

Tom said he was unemployed and received $700 a month disability.

If Tom bails out of jail, he is forbidden to have firearms, weapons, alcohol and controlled substances, and ordered to take his medication. He would be under the supervision of the Department of Alternative Sentencing.

The report indicated that several bottles of alcohol were found in Tom’s bedroom. His father said he owned several weapons, but they were locked in a trunk in the residence.

Tom has previously been convicted of domestic battery and driving under the influence. In March 2005, he was arrested after he and a friend were stopped in their vehicle at Highway 395 and Ironwood Drive in Minden. At the time, Tom had three loaded rifles and shotguns in the car. According to deputies, Tom threatened to commit suicide “and take all of Pau-Wa-Lu with me.” He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was placed on probation. Three days later, he was arrested at his Reno apartment after officers found alcohol and a throwing knife. He had multiple violations until his probation was revoked, and Tom was ordered to serve a year in Douglas County Jail in 2005. His next court appearance is Wednesday.