A sigh of relief can be heard throughout much of Boston. Police have apprehended who they believe to be the notorious “Tree Ninja” of Brighton (Boston). For several years, the “Tree Ninja” has been wielding his hammer of destruction against newly planted shrubs and trees. It has prompted local residents to place fliers around town warning those with green thumbs to tread lightly when it comes to planting season.
“For years, the trees in our neighborhood have been under siege… Dozens of trees have been destroyed or maimed at the hands of one man who lives among us.”
What started out as an onslaught on trees soon escalated to shrubs and even bushes, the poster warned.
“The tree killer has now moved on to damaging and destroying flowering shrubs and bushes. YOURS COULD BE NEXT.”
All of this came to an abrupt end the night of April 16. Police had been gathering evidence through video surveillance for weeks. A perfect opportunity presented itself at Brighton Elks Club, CBS Boston reports. It was on the night in question 65-year-old Joseph Rizza showed up at the club and began viciously attacking a newly planted tree. When approached by the officers, Rizza tried to hide the hammer, but it was too late.
The alleged “Tree Ninja” has been charged with five counts of willful and malicious destruction of property. Newsday indicated that he was also charged with one count of possession of a dangerous weapon. There has been no comment from Rizza, and his lawyers are declining to answer any questions on the matter. This is being treated as an ongoing investigation. Police are in the process of trying to link Rizza to other open “Ninja” cases.
This is the most high profile case of violence against trees in some time, but it is certainly not the first. Perhaps the most notorious of tree crimes occurred in early 2011. It garnered national attention. Harvey Updyke Jr., an avid Alabama fan, was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the damaging of a 130-year-old oak tree at Toomer’s Corner on the campus of Auburn University. He might have gotten away with it had it not been for “Al from Dadeville” calling into a local radio show bragging about pouring herbicide around the tree in question.
It is not known what prompted the “Tree Ninja” to wreak havoc on Brighton vegetation. There appears to be no motive. Regardless his fate now rests with prosecutors. What do you feel the “Tree Ninja” deserves? Feel free to comment below.