SARATOGA SPRINGS – A Ballston Spa man is accused of pulling a loaded handgun on the owner of a Saratoga Springs auto garage Tuesday afternoon after an argument over money got heated.
The owner of the Route 29 Garage at 254 Washington St. responded by knocking the gun out of his hands, only to have his face grabbed and scratched by the man he had known for about 10 years through the auto-mechanic industry, Saratoga Springs police spokesman Lt. Bob Jillson said.
“He would stop in periodically to say hi and make small talk,” he said. “It was not strange for him to stop in.”
Jillson said Michael VanDenberg, 68, claimed the shop owner, 48-year-old Wayne Currier, owed him money over a previous business venture during the altercation, which started as a conversation in the business’ office space before moving to the garage area and getting out of hand.
“I don’t know his true intentions, whether it was intimidation or his intent to do arm,” Jillson said.
Shortly before 12:55 p.m., with the semiautomatic handgun pointed at his chest, Currier “swung his arm down and around and knocked the gun out of his hand,” Jillson said.
An employee then grabbed the gun and took it out of the garage area, police said. VanDenberg is alleged to have then grabbed Currier by the face, causing scratches and minor lacerations with his hands, police said. He left the garage soon after and waited in his car for responding officers to arrive.
“He was just sitting in his car waiting patiently,” Jillson said. “He was cooperative throughout the entire incident.”
VanDenberg was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment, both felonies, and third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury and second-degree menacing, both misdemeanors, police said.
Police recovered the loaded handgun and found it to be legally registered to VanDenberg. He was arraigned Tuesday and posted $1,000 cash bail, police said.