Parking lot incident tense at Lincoln Park

Former IRS official accused of threatening another driver with gun after Palin speech

The Grand Junction man suspected of brandishing a loaded handgun following Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s stop in Grand Junction is a former regional director for the Internal Revenue Service.

Jack Bruce Cheskaty, 63, 1917 Broadway, is scheduled to be charged Tuesday in connection with an incident Monday in which another man alleged Cheskaty racked the slide on his gun and held it over the steering wheel of his car in the parking lot of Lincoln Park.

Cheskaty, though, told The Daily Sentinel on Thursday that he didn’t threaten anyone. Instead, he claimed he and his family were “getting assaulted by a 4,000-pound weapon.”

Cheskaty said he, his daughter-in-law, her mother and his two grandchildren were leaving Lincoln Park in his Chrysler 300 when another man, 37-year-old Kenneth Gonzales, tried to move his Kia sport-utility vehicle into the lane of traffic.

Gonzales told police Cheskaty rolled down his window and shouted, “If you want to get ahead of me, you’ll have to deal with my insurance agency.” Gonzales said he replied, “I’ve got insurance, too,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Gonzales told police Cheskaty reached down and came up with a handgun in his left hand. He said
Cheskaty racked the slide and held the gun over the steering wheel. Gonzales’ 14-year-old daughter told her father that Cheskaty had a gun. A woman in Cheskaty’s car said “knock it off,” the affidavit said.

“Gonzales attempted to back up but had nowhere to go due to the traffic,” an officer wrote in the affidavit. “Gonzales was in fear for his life and the lives of his children.”

Cheskaty portrayed the incident differently. He alleged Gonzales acted aggressively and lunged his SUV toward Cheskaty’s car several times, “rubbing” the nose of the SUV against the passenger side of the car at one point.

He said he reached for his handgun, which he said was stuffed underneath his seat, and brought it up over the gear shift. He said he retrieved the gun “in case the worst thing in the world happened” and claimed he never raised it above the dashboard.

Cheskaty contended the only reason Gonzales saw the gun is because his SUV allowed him to look down into Cheskaty’s car.

Cheskaty drove to the police station on Ute Avenue, followed by Gonzales. Cheskaty said he was going to report the verbal altercation and the fact that he had retrieved the gun.

Officers removed a .40-caliber handgun, which had a full magazine and a round in the chamber.

Cheskaty was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing with a deadly weapon and released from jail on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Cheskaty said he worked for the IRS for 35 years, including five years as division director for the
five-state Rocky Mountain Region, and retired in 2004.

“The (district attorney) needs to consider all the parameters. I would hope that after everything is considered that the charges would be dropped,” Cheskaty said.

Gonzales couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.


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