Police arrested one man Tuesday after an altercation near the downtown Medford YMCA. - Jim Craven

Two Medford men engage in pepper-spray shootout

MEDFORD — An apparent long-standing feud led to a public altercation between two men armed with pepper spray outside of the Medford YMCA Tuesday afternoon.

Medford police were called to the YMCA at Sixth and West Main streets after Blake Lawrence Lee, 23, entered the building claiming he was being threatened by 33-year-old Chet Hunter Bielenberg.

Lee said Bielenberg was armed with a gun, Medford police Sgt. Kevin Walruff said.

Bielenberg fled the area, stripping off his shirt and hat in an apparent attempt to make it difficult for police to identify him. Officers arrested him nearby near an apartment building on Ivy between Main and Sixth streets.

"These two have an ongoing beef," said Medford police Sgt. Kevin Walruff. "Apparently, Lee testified against Bielenberg or one of his buddies in a recent trial."

At first, Lee did not cooperate with police, saying he didn't want anyone to get arrested. He changed his mind a few minutes later, Walruff said.

Several Medford officers were on the scene, as the case was originally reported as a man armed with a gun outside the YMCA. It turned out Bielenberg was carrying a pepper spray can in his waistband, Walruff said.

"For someone nearby who didn't know any better, it could've appeared Bielenberg had a gun," Walruff said. "We believe it was nothing but posturing between these two, but these types of things cause a lot of trouble and we take them very seriously."

Bielenberg was charged with witness intimidation and disorderly conduct. He could face an additional charge of unlawful use of Mace, Walruff said.

Bielenberg has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1996, court records show. In July 2006 he was convicted of second-degree theft and fourth-degree assault. He also has convictions of second-degree animal abuse, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, eluding police in a vehicle and third-degree robbery, according to court records.

Lee, who had a conviction for meth possession in 2006, was not charged with a crime in Tuesday's incident.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail

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