When officers found Charles Matthew Thomas just before midnight Friday he had a gun pushed up against another man’s stomach and was forcing the man away from The Wort Hotel.

The victim had his hands up, as if surrendering, and Thomas was clinching the back of his hostage’s red coat.

When Jackson Police Officer Stephen O’Donnell rounded the corner from Broadway and saw Thomas pointing his gun at the man, O’Donnell demanded he drop his weapon.

Thomas, 36, slowly lowered his pistol to the sidewalk.

After several interviews, police were able to piece together that Thomas and his wife were in town from Twin Falls, Idaho.

They had been drinking Friday night at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where a fight broke out just after last call.

According to Sgt. Russ Ruschill, when they reunited later in the night Thomas’ wife told him she had been assaulted outside the Cowboy Bar, but Ruschill said videos tell a different story.

“She gets into a physical, hair pulling, punching fight with another female,” Ruschill said.

Ruschill said Thomas had walked off, and his wife was growing annoyed with other customers, which led to a verbal argument that led to the physical fight.

When the two met back at their hotel, she was upset that Thomas left her there, police said.

So Thomas grabbed his gun and went back toward the bar to see if he could find the people who his wife said assaulted her.

Thomas got as far as The Wort Hotel’s Glenwood entrance when he spotted the bartender who’d been serving them drinks at the Cowboy earlier in the night.

Thomas thought the man might have seen the person who fought with his wife, so he confronted him.

The man reportedly told Thomas that if he thought someone assaulted his wife, he should call the police. Thomas refused, saying the police wouldn’t do anything about it, according to court documents.

A woman who was standing near the victim realized Thomas was angry. When Thomas violently grabbed the man, pushed him up against a pole and drew his gun, the woman called 911.

O’Donnell intercepted the two as they neared Broadway from Glenwood.

Police said Thomas cooperated until he realized he was under arrest. During his booking process at the Teton County Jail, Thomas bit a deputy on his forearm.

Facing charges of aggravated assault, felonious restraint, battery and felony interference with a peace officer, Thomas appeared Monday in Teton County Circuit Court.

He asked to be released on his own recognizance.

“Your honor, I just want to yell you ... I have a wife and five children,” Thomas told Judge James Radda. “I have worked very hard to try and provide a future for my family. We don’t have money. We live month to month.”

Radda said letting someone out on a signature bond who faces several violent felony charges is unlikely.

“You are presumed innocent, and these are just charges,” Radda said, “but one of the officers’ written statements said you were holding a pistol against the alleged victim’s torso.”

Deputy Prosecutor Zane Aukee suggested a $50,000 bond.

“These charges are very serious,” he said. “And the state’s evidence is quite strong.”

Radda set the bond at $10,000 and ordered Thomas to not have any contact with the victims. He was also told to not go into any bars or handle any guns.

A preliminary hearing was set for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23 in Teton County Circuit Court.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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