After a number of contentious West York council meetings, angry words turned to a confrontation between a candidate for mayor and a councilman Monday that now has the police involved.
The incident between mayoral candidate Charles "Chuck" Wasko and councilman Tim Berkheimer happened after the meeting as a large crowd gathered in front of the borough building at 1700 W. Philadelphia St.
Berkheimer said he was returning to council chambers because he thought he forgot his bag, which contained his cellphone and important papers, when
Wasko grabbed him.
"I was assaulted by Mr. Wasko," Berkheimer said in a phone interview. "I know he (grabbed) my left arm and tried to choke me."
Different version: When contacted by phone Monday night, Wasko had a different version of what happened.
Wasko said he was reaching for a railing of the stairs that lead to the building when Berkheimer walked up and pushed his hand away.
He said it was a case of two people coming together at a point at the same time.
Wasko said Berkheimer "got his goat and I pushed him."
"I grabbed hold of him to push him away from me," Wasko said.
After the incident, Berkheimer went inside the borough building, which also houses the police station, and told Chief Justin Seibel he wants to press charges against Wasko.
Officers interviewed a number of witnesses, including resident Jesse Kiesel, who said he saw Berkheimer bump Wasko on the stairs.
Wasko said he's not pushing for charges to be filed against Berkheimer.
"Everyone's saying exactly the same thing (about) what happened," Wasko said.
Police said the incident is under investigation and additional interviews will be conducted.
Ongoing: Wasko defeated incumbent Mayor Sam Firestone on the Republican ballot in the May primary and his name will be the only one on the ballot for mayor in November.
Berkheimer, who was appointed to the council earlier this year, will also be on the Republican ballot for council.
For more than a year, council meetings have been ripe with heated exchanges between residents and the council and between council members and other council members.
Of late, Berkheimer has felt the wrath from angry residents for his stance on wanting to merge the borough police department with another agency and his push to remove parking meters in the borough, which was approved by the council.
A number of the residents who were outside the borough building at the time of the incident have spoken out against Berkheimer during meetings and, because of that, Berkheimer said they'll paint him as the instigator.
Berkheimer said he's had run-ins with residents after previous meetings but none that resorted to physical contact.
"They're trying to push me into taking a swing at them," he said. "I'm starting to get fearful to go to borough council meetings,"
-- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.