A local community in fear and anger–as one of their own neighbors seems determined to destroy their property–and not even the police can stop him! What this guy is doing is illegal and shocking–and Hank got him caught on camera. You wont believe what you’re about to see as Hank investigates–“the tree ninja.”
Boston police say this man attacks his victims with axes and hammers. Here he is, caught by a neighbors surveillance camera-in the act.
Yuly Mekler, Brighton Resident: “I think that he is dangerous.”
Brian McLaughlin, Brighton Resident: “It’s been going on and on and on.”
And officials are powerless to stop it.
Yuly Mekler: “All the police know but they can’t do anything”
It’s not people the police say Brighton resident Joe Rizza is harming, it’s trees! Police reports say Rizza dresses in black, like a ninja, then, under cover of darkness he attacks the trunks of neighborhood trees with a hammer or ax–listen…
And then? He then disappears in to the night.
Several of his Brighton neighbors say they have seen him do it, even caught him, time after time.
Hank: “Have you said, ‘why are you doing this?'”
Yuly Mekler: “Yes.”
Hank: “And what happens?”
Yuly Mekler: “He turns and runs.”
Eventually, the trees die–and though he’s been repeatedly charged with malicious destruction of property and even was court-ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet–neighbors say the attacks continued.
Hank: “That is what he does?”
Yuly Mekler: “Yes. That is what he does.”
Here’s proof, residents are terrified of where the “tree ninja” will attack next–they’ve actually created wood and chicken wire barricades to keep him away.
Hank: “That’s bizarre.”
Yuly Mekler: “Yeah, that’s bizarre.”
The City initially replaced the ninja victims–costing so far about 4300 taxpayer dollars–but now, the City says, they simply can’t keep replanting.
Greg Mosman, City of Boston Arborist: “Because he’s gonna do it again.”
Look: So here’s what Winship Street used to look like, see that tree on the left? And now it’s gone.
Rizza’s now been charged–again- that’s why he was in Brighton Court this day–but he wasn’t answering any of our questions.
Hank: “Mr. Rizza? Why do you chop the trees?”
(Joseph Rizza: Doesn’t answer.)
His father admitted his son has a problem.
Hank: “So why does he do it, has he told you why he does it?”
Tony Rizza, Joseph Rizza’s Father: (pointing to head) “Mental, mental.”
And his mother–simply ordered us to go away.
But for now neighbors watch and barricade and wonder if there will be another attack.