“This investigation was part of an ongoing operation seeking to identify and apprehend the individual(s) who for several years has been killing trees in the Brighton area and eluded capture,” BPD said in a statement. “Over the past several years this ‘Brighton Tree Ninja,’ would either chop down or damage beyond saving, young trees that were planted in Brighton.”
According to police, the man described by an area flyer as “a master of evasion” was caught in the act on Wednesday when detectives witnessed him whacking the hell out of a tree with a hammer. From WBZ-TV:
Over the past few weeks, detectives have been gathering video evidence. They set up surveillance in the area of the Brighton Elks Club to try and nab the culprit.
On Wednesday, police say 65-year-old Joseph Rizza showed up and began attacking a tree. As detectives approached him, they say Rizza tried to hide a hammer he’d been using, but it was too late.
Rizza now faces five counts of willful and malicious destruction of property, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon, and zero counts of good old-fashioned neighborliness.