CLYDE, NY (AP) — A man who says he caught four boys vandalizing his father-in-law's home has been charged with child endangerment after corralling them in a closet until police arrived.
Jesse Daniels was arraigned on four counts of endangering the welfare of a child after authorities say he interrupted the vandalism at the empty home in the Wayne County village of Clyde, midway between Rochester and Syracuse.
Daniels, 53, told WHAM-TV in Rochester that 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, he said.
"I was fortunate that they were in that room that had a closet, so I put them in the closet," he said. "I said, 'Listen, you guys are staying here until the police come, period.'"
Their parents said Daniels handled the boys roughly and threatened them with the hammer.
The damage to the home included holes in the walls, broken windows and graffiti derogatory to women spray-painted on walls. Daniels estimated that the damage to his father-in-law's property exceeds $40,000.
He said he believed the boys committed the vandalism in retaliation for Daniels' wife telling them earlier in the day to stay off the couple's property.
The boys have been charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Their cases are being handled in Wayne County Family Court.
Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys, told the station that there are no excuses for his sons' actions.
"I understand they were in the wrong, but there are other ways to handle it," he said. "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."
Bowler said Daniels grabbed the neck of one of his sons and left a mark. He said that his boys are traumatized and that Daniels should have faced more charges.
Daniels counters that he was just trying to protect his family.
Daniels is due back in court later this month.
Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy told the station that the incident is still under investigation.