A New York man could be facing up to four years in jail after he captured four young boys vandalizing his father-in-law’s house – and held them inside a closet until the police arrived.
Jesse Daniels, of the Village of Clyde, is charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Police say he threatened to hit the four boys with a hammer unless they got into the closet – a charge Daniels denies.
Daniels was watching television last Saturday night when he heard noises coming from his father-in-law’s house – located next door. The house had been under renovation. Daniels told his wife to call the police while he went to confront the intruders.
Daniels discovered massive damage and destruction. Paint was splattered on walls and cabinets. Counters were smashed and entire walls were destroyed by hammers. Nearly every room was heavily damaged.
Filthy words and derogatory references to women had been spray-painted on the walls – and windows were broken.
The home was vacant and under renovation. Daniels estimates the damages exceeded $50,000.
Inside the house – he discovered the culprits: four boys – ages eight and 10. The vandals tried to escape but Daniels was able to grab a hammer from one of the kids and ordered them into the closet.
“”I was fortunate that they were in that room that had a closet, so I put them in the closet,” he told television station WHAM. “I said, `Listen, you guys are staying here until the police come, period.’”
The boys were arrested on felony burglary and criminal mischief charges.
But on Monday, police arrested Daniels after the parents of the boys alleged that he went too far in threatening their sons. They said he grabbed the neck of one child and left a mark. They also said their children were traumatized by the incident.
“I understand they were in the wrong, but there are other ways to handle it,” parent Paul Bowler told WHAM. “He (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 and tell them you’re going to bash their skulls in with a hammer.”
Daniels, who is a local businessman, said he is devastated by the charges.
“I am sick to my stomach over this,” he told the Wayne County Times. “I was a nervous wreck. I did what I thought was the right thing.”
The parents are also upset with the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office. They wanted the local business owner charged with more crimes.
But District Attorney Richard Healey told Fox News the parents may be the ones facing charges.
“We are looking into the parents,” Healey said. “The parents of the children may in fact be prosecuted.”
Healey wants to know why the children were out on the streets so late at night and said the parents could be charged with endangering the welfare of their own children.
He also said the children may be responsible for other acts of vandalism around the village.
“It’s a bad situation,” he said. “(These kids are) very young to be engaged in this kind of conduct. We’ve never seen anything like this at that age.”
As for the fate of Daniels – the district attorney said it’s still under review – but it’s unlikely he will face jail time.
“The case is pending in town court right now,” he said. “There was reasonable cause for the police to make the arrest – but we will decide whether to prosecute.”
And the district attorney hinted that Daniels may not even be prosecuted – once the facts are known.
“It may very well be his conduct – even if he had a hammer – could be justified,” he said. “It’s a little more difficult when you are dealing with an eight-year-old.”