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Stop vandalism, go to jail?

Crime

A man who caught four boys vandalizing his father-in-law’s home now faces charges himself: The boys’ parents said Jesse Daniels handled the boys roughly and threatened them with a hammer that one of the boys had used.

Daniels, 53, of Clyde, N.Y., told WHAM-TV in Rochester he heard pounding coming from the home next door the night of June 8. The house is empty while Daniels renovates it for his father-in-law. 

Daniels said he went to investigate while his wife called 911. He said he found four boys, ages 8 and 10, inside with hammers. He took a hammer from one, then stuck the boys in a closet until officers arrived: “I was fortunate that they were in that room that had a closet, so I put them in the closet. I said, ‘Listen, you guys are staying here until the police come, period.’”

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The Wayne County Times reported one of the boys admitted they were retaliating for Daniels’ wife telling them earlier in the day to stay off the couple’s property. The damage to the home included holes in the walls, broken windows and anti-women graffiti spray-painted on walls. Daniels estimated that the damage to his father-in-law’s property exceeds $40,000.

Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys, told WHAM, “I understand they were in the wrong, but there are other ways to handle it. [Daniels] knew who the kids were. It’s not like they were strangers. And send the kids home and call the cops then. You don’t sit there and torment them.” Bowler said Daniels grabbed the neck of one of his sons and left a mark. He said his boys are “traumatized.” 

Daniels counters he was just trying to protect his family. The boys face felony burglary and criminal mischief charges. Their cases are being handled in Wayne County Family Court. Under laws regarding juveniles, Daniels’ father-in-law can get a maximum of $6,000 in damages.  

Daniels is due back in court later this month. Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy told WHAM the incident is still under investigation. The Wayne County Times includes pictures of the damage.

Daniels faces four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. New York penal code vaguely defines the crime as one who “knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental, or moral welfare of a child.” Each count against Daniels carries a prison sentence of up to one year

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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