A New York man was arrested and charged for endangering the welfare of four children who allegedly broke into and vandalized his father-in-law’s home, causing property damage in excess of $40,000
The man locked the children into a closet until police arrived, and claims he made no threats to hurt them.
Jesse Daniels, a 53-year-old resident of Clyde, N.Y. is facing felony criminal charges and up to one year in prison for each of the four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The Wayne County man considers these charges a grave injustice and claims that he did nothing to threaten the four children he found in his father-in-law’s home.
At 9 p.m. on Saturday, Daniels told his wife to call 911 to report the loud noises coming from the house next door, which is where his wife’s father lives. He told 13WHAM News that he witnessed one boy striking a wall with a hammer, and subsequently went to investigate.
Upon entering the home, Daniels allegedly saw four boys between the ages of 8 and 10, trashing the house and causing an estimated $40,000 in damages. He says 17 windows were smashed, the basement was filled with debris, the electrical fixtures were broken, the heat was turned on, and the walls were filled with holes. Paint had been spilled across the house, porcelain had been chipped off of a bathtub, and a toilet and sink were smashed to pieces.
Daniels says the home smelled like gasoline, paint and paint thinner, and that it was a fire hazard.
“I’m thankful that it didn’t light because with the oil-based paint, one of them children could’ve been torched in a second, in a second,” he told 13WHAM.
Daniels said three of the four boys were each holding a hammer when he came across them, prompting him to pick up a hammer himself. He then locked them in a closet until police arrived at the home.
“So I grab a hammer the one hammer and the other three boys got hammers, now I don’t know what to do here, I said you guys put that stuff down, what are you doing?” Daniels recalled. “Now they’re startled because now they’re caught. I was fortunate that they were in that room that had a closet, so I put them in a closet.”
One of the boys allegedly told Daniels that he was bleeding, and showed him a small scratch on his torso.
“I said listen when the police come they’ll take care of you. Just be cool man, just be cool, don’t worry about anything – I can’t let you go,” Daniels said, recalling what he told the boy.
Once police arrived, the children were released from the closet and taken home. Felony criminal charges for Second Degree Burglary and Second Degree Criminal Mischief were filed against them.
But the boys allege that Daniels threatened them with his hammer and grabbed one of them by the throat. Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys, told 13WHAM that his kids are traumatized by the incident and haven’t been able to sleep at night.
“I understand they were in the wrong but there are other ways to handle it,” he said. “Daniels knew who the kids were – it’s not like they were strangers. 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.”
Police are still investigating the incident. If Daniels is convicted of the four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, he could face up to four years in prison. If the boys are convicted, they could face juvenile detention, but are unlikely to receive punishments greater than probation and restitution. New York State law says that juveniles can only be held liable for damages up to $1500.
“I am sick to my stomach over this,” Daniels told the Wayne Times. “I was a nervous wreck. I did what I thought was the right thing.”