Crime & Courts

McHenry man arrested after standoff faces assault, weapons charges

Witness: Convicted felon threatened to put gun to 17-year-old’s head

Police responded to a domestic incident Saturday night in the 1000 block of North Front Street in McHenry.
Police responded to a domestic incident Saturday night in the 1000 block of North Front Street in McHenry.

A McHenry man was arrested Saturday night after allegedly threatening a person with a firearm and refusing to cooperate with police.

William B. Cheatham, 56, was arrested at his home in the 1000 block of North Front Street, according to a statement from McHenry Police Chief John Birk.

Officers were called to the scene about 8:30 p.m. after a report of a domestic disturbance. When officers arrived, it was reported that Cheatham threatened to harm one of the victims with a firearm, Birk said. Cheatham reportedly retreated into his residence and refused to answer responding officers.

An investigation revealed that Cheatham was a convicted felon and in possession of numerous firearms. A search warrant for the residence was obtained.

Because of a threat of weapons, the McHenry Police Department requested assistance from the Emergency Services Team of the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System. NIPAS is a joint venture of suburban municipal police agencies that provide mutual aid.

Police entered the residence, and Cheatham was taken into custody without incident. During a search of the residence, investigators recovered 13 long guns, two handguns and ammunition, Birk said. To help ensure the safety of other area residents, Route 31 was closed to traffic for about four hours.

Cheatham faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, assault and disorderly conduct.

Cheatham was processed and taken to the McHenry County Jail to await a bond hearing.

McHenry police could not be reached for information Sunday.

Caller shares her story

Cheatham’s girlfriend, Jami Stefko, told the Northwest Herald on Sunday morning that Cheatham threatened to put a gun to her 17-year-old daughter’s head. Stefko said Cheatham came home from work intoxicated and was upset that her daughter had guests.

To avoid conflict, Stefko said she escorted her daughter and their guests out of the home before calling 911.

“He threatened my 17-year-old daughter, and he has guns. He didn’t pull one out, but the point is he shouldn’t say that,” Stefko said. “She’s doing OK. She’s here with me sleeping.”

She said Cheatham was the only person inside the home when police arrived and the hours-long standoff began.

“They had to break our bedroom window on the side of the house, where it’s taped and broken, and they had to throw tear gas in,” Stefko said.

Stefko, who was busy airing out their bedroom Sunday, said the fate of their relationship is unclear.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m tired right now,” she said. “It’s upsetting, but everybody’s safe. That’s the most important. At least it didn’t end bad. Bill’s alive, no cops got hurt, we’re all OK.”

Cheatham was convicted of aggravated driving under the influence after being arrested in May 2012.

Area bar cleared

Bartender Dana Johnson said the nearby Corner Tap, 3901 Main St., was shut down during the standoff. When she returned to work Sunday morning, the place looked like “everyone went out for a cigarette” and never came back.

“This morning it was kind of funny coming in because everything was left as if everyone was still drinking,” Johnson said. “Everybody had to leave. Lights were left on. Cash was left out. It was really crazy.”

Johnson said Cheatham was a regular and got along with most patrons.

“He helps the community all the time,” she said. “He’s a veteran. I never would have imagined this happening. Never.”

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