A New York 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 charged with 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.
In an interview with CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, Daniels said the home is owned by his father-in-law and they were in the process of renovating it. Daniels says he looked out the window of his home on June 8 and saw four boys, ages 8 and 10, vandalizing the house next door with hammers.
His wife called 9-1-1 and says he took a hammer from one, then stuck the boys in a closet until officers arrived. Their parents say Daniels handled the boys roughly.
"Obviously my adrenaline was pumped, I did not know what I was walking into," said Daniels.
He said that when he realized it was four neighborhood children swinging sledge hammers, he grabbed one of the hammers from one of the children. "They put them down and the closet was there, and I said get in that closet. They tried smashing their way out 3 or 4 times. I never once hurt those children, never would I ever do that. I said, sit down till the police come," said Daniels.
Daniels says the boys told him that one of their mothers told them to vandalize the house, but arresting police officer Larry Lavalley says the parents and the children deny that claim.
When police decided to charge Daniels with endangering the welfare of the children, Daniels said he "was beside myself. I really was, you've got to be kidding me."
Kenyon also talked with Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys. "I think it could have been handled a lot different than it was. I don't think it was right that he threatened two 10-year-olds and two 8-year-olds with a hammer," says Bowler. "They were in the house, yes, I understand they were in the house. I understand they were wrong to be inside the house."
Daniels denies that he threatened the children.
In an impromptu news conference, Officer LaValley explained the basis for the charges against Daniels. "They (the children) all stated that they felt threatened based on Jesse allegedly coming in with a hammer, and allegedly physically threw all four of them in the closet. The parents were very upset about the issue. They understand the children did wrong. They felt the fact that what Jesse did was overboard," said LaValley.
Daniels stood next to LaValley during that news conference. "He's doing his job, he has to uphold the law. I was not aware I could not detain children," said Daniels.
Bowler says since the incident happened on June 8, he and his family have felt threatened by comments on Facebook. He also says someone fired a shotgun, striking a race car he had parked next to his shop. Bowler says he filed a report with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.
The boys were charged with burglary and criminal mischief.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)