Man charged after alleged pitchfork attack in Las Cruces

Justin Garcia
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - A man accused of swiping at another man with a pitchfork was released from jail Wednesday after prosecutors tried to convince a judge he should be jailed prior to trial. 

Michael Zelasko, 50, was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of criminal damage to property. 

In an affidavit, Las Cruces Police Det. Jeffrey Kuepfer said the incident occurred April 16. Kuepfer said that a man was driving his 2012 Dodge pickup along South Valley Drive towards Farney Lane when he noticed Zelasko standing on the side of the road.

The man told police that Zelasko was holding a pitchfork and yelling at traffic as it passed. As the man drove by Zelasko, he said that he raised his hands as a way of indicating to Zelasko "what are you doing?" The man said Zelasko responded by striking the right side of his pickup truck with the pitchfork. 

The man said he then got out of his truck and approached Zelasko. He told police that he wanted to confront the man to ask why he hit the truck with a pitchfork. Zelasko then swung the pitchfork at the man saying, "I'm going to kill you! I'm going to kill you!" The man then grabbed the pitchfork and "slapped Michael Zelasko upside the head a few times," Kuepfer wrote in his affidavit. 

The man told police that he didn't want to hurt Zelasko but was afraid that Zelasko was going to hurt him with the pitchfork. Shortly after the affray, Zelasko left the area before he was later arrested by police, Kuepfer said. 

Prosecutors tried to tie the alleged pitchfork fight with a series of other crimes in recent months that police have accused Zelasko of committing. 

"Since January of this year, the defendant has been alleged to have committed eight crimes on four separate occasions," prosecutors wrote in a motion requesting pretrial detention. 

However, 3rd Judge District Judge Douglas Driggers ultimately disregarded the motion and granted Zelasko conditions of release. Zelasko is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 27. It's unclear what happened to the pitchfork. 

Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at

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