SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- By the time Fred Nelson Jr. walked up to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Wednesday morning, his once-promising life had largely unraveled.
His career as a drummer for a successful post-grunge band and other groups had hit the skids, his marriage had crumbled, and he had been in and out of jail several times.
But the perceived threat he allegedly uttered to the mayor -- that Johnson would be out of office within four hours -- may have been the result of mental illness rather than a desire to harm anyone, his friends said Wednesday.
"I've known him for 11 years and he's not a criminal," said one friend and bandmate, Kally Turner. "He's ill."
Nelson, 43, said in a jailhouse interview with The Sacramento Bee that he meant the mayor no harm and does not consider himself to be mentally ill. He said he believed Johnson has not done enough to promote new business in Sacramento's Oak Park section and that he simply wanted to warn the mayor that his political career would not last if he did not do better.