GARDNERVILLE RANCHOS - The mother of a man being held for manslaughter in the death of Jeffrey John said that if her son did it, it was self defense.
Donna Ward said she has been in contact with her son, Michael Ward, 21, twice a day since he was arrested in John's death.
She said she was told by two women at the scene where John was killed that her son was attacked by a group of American Indians, who broke in and were beating him.
Ward said the confrontation was the result of a long-standing conflict between the Wards and residents of Dresslerville.
"I'm scared to death," Ward said. "I bought a $400 gun and I plan to get a permit. I have to send my daughter out of state to go to school. They've said they want to kill all Michael's relatives."
Michael Ward is scheduled to appear in East Fork Justice Court today on charges of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and manslaughter. His bail is $100,000.
Donna Ward credited Enrique Garcia, who faces charges for allegedly helping Ward clean up after John was killed, with saving her son's life.
"If it hadn't been for Enrique and Jason Wellington, my son would be dead," she said. "Enrique was swinging a baseball bat trying to get them off Michael."
Ward said she believed the incident started that afternoon with bad blood between Michael's girlfriend and another woman.
Later in the day, Michael went to his friend Enrique's and that is when the people broke in and started beating Michael, she said.
"Two of them were holding him down and another was kicking and choking him," she said. "Someone broke a beer bottle over his head."
Ward said her son doesn't remember exactly what happened, but she believes he is innocent of murder.
"My son is no murderer," she said. "The evidence will show whether he killed him or not, but even if he did, it was because it was kill or be killed."
Donna Ward said the family moved to Carson Valley five years ago.
"We moved out of Southern California to get away from the drugs and gangs and we ran into a lot worse here in Gardnerville."
Shannon Crawford, the mother of Ward's 17-year-old fiancé, said the girl has left town after her house was targeted by John's friends.
"My heart goes out to the people who lost their son," she said. "But I really do hope things don't escalate. Mike is a generally nice guy. We get along fine and I really do hope everything works out."
Crawford said eggs have been thrown at her home.
Nearly two dozen friends and relatives of John attended Monday's hearing in East Fork Justice Court.
Dinah Pete said in an interview that her grandson was devoted to his family. He is survived by four children.
"He grew up around here and went to Douglas High School," Pete said. "He was just a lovable person. He was the greatest grandson anyone could have asked for."
She said John enjoyed sports, especially wrestling.
"He respected everyone," she said.