Mentally ill man gets probation in showroom drive-through crash |

Mentally ill man gets probation in showroom drive-through crash

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

A Gardnerville man suffering from mental illness received a suspended prison sentence Monday and five years probation for driving his car at two salesmen through the window of an auto showroom last year.

Following testimony from Travis Williams’ father and friends, District Judge Michael Griffin sentenced Williams, 24, to probation, warning Williams that he must take his medication to control his bipolar disorder with psychosis if he expects to remain a free man.

“You either are going to be in charge of your illness and accept it, or you’re going to go to prison,” Griffin said.

If Williams violates his probation, he would have to serve 36 to 108 months in prison on two charges of assault with a deadly weapon and malicious destruction or property.

Williams was arrested Nov. 11, after he drove his Dodge truck up a ramp and into the showroom toward two employees of Michael Hohl Motors in the 3700 block of South Carson Street.

On Monday, Williams’ father, Thomas Williams, told Griffin that the family first realized Travis had a problem when Travis visited Glendora, Calif., in 2003 with friends and ended up in his basketball shorts in the “ghetto,” saying he was God. When Thomas Williams went to collect his son, Travis thought the television in their motel room was talking to him.

“He thought he was the messiah,” Thomas Williams said.

His son was then admitted to a Reno hospital where he spent 60 days. A few months later, Travis drove his vehicle to Susanville, Calif., where police found him and contacted his family.

“He was a raving maniac,” Thomas Williams said.

Again, Travis ended up in the hospital, where he spent 30 days.

In another incident, Travis was living with a roommate in Arizona, when the friend called Travis’ father and told him Travis had built a huge shrine in the apartment. Thomas Williams said he reached his son on his cell phone and talked to him while he walked five miles to the hospital because he’d given all of his belongings away to someone.

Up until the Glendora incident, Travis was a normal teenager and a good basketball player who’d received a scholarship to play for a college in Yakima, Wash., the elder Williams said.

“When he’s on his meds he’s a great kid,” Thomas Williams said. “He’s not an incorrigible criminal.”

Thomas Williams told the court his son would live with him when released from jail and he’d be responsible for getting his son to and from court appointments and work.

Travis Williams said he was embarrassed by his behavior now that he’s thinking clearly and he is happy to have medication administered intravenously once a month.

“I’m lucky that no one got killed. I remember being mad but I don’t remember why I was mad,” he said. “You’re only God for a while.”

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.