Tree-killing ninja rampaging through Brighton Center again

Tree-killing Ninja sought in Brighton

A man who dons a black ninja outfit and goes out at night with a long-handled blade is back on the prowl in Brighton again, slicing up trees to make them die. And now that he's killed all the young trees along one street, he's going after shrubs.

Residents of Peaceable and Winship streets have put up wanted posters, while police try to collect enough evidence to convince a judge that the local resident, who's been killing trees for years, is a menace who needs to be sent away for longer than brief spells in Bridgewater.

"He's cutting down all the trees," Sgt. Michael O'Hara of D-14 told residents at a Brighton Allston Improvement Association meeting tonight. O'Hara said his preferred technique is to strip away just enough bark to mortally wound a tree.

It's gotten so bad, the city will no longer replace street trees along several roads in Brighton Center, "because he's just going to kill them," O'Hara said.

O'Hara said the man has mental issues, but that nothing that is done for him at Bridgewater has stopped him from coming back to Brighton and going around looking for more trees to kill.

O'Hara urged anybody who sees the tree killer to call 911. He told residents not to confront the man himself, partly because of his long-handled blade, partly because he's a former steroid user who is a lot brawnier than his small stature would suggest.



Free tagging: 


So, is this a thing? Because

So, is this a thing? Because a neighborhood I'm familiar with in Brooklyn went through the same issue. One guy was running around yanking branches off of trees. He clearly had some mental problems, and was known to people in the neighborhood. It was annoying what he was doing, but everyone was trying to keep him out of the CJ system, because that wasn't the place for him. Eventually, someone convinced him to cool it.

No advice for the Brightonians involved with this, just wanted to share that this seems to be happening in other places.

It might be a common symptom of mental illness

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I once saw a schizophrenic homeless man have a long conversation with a tree in San Francisco, telling the tree how she was his best friend who'd never "done me wrong," and then give the tree a big hug.

Perhaps the trees in Brighton and Brooklyn weren't as friendly and accommodating.


who is this guy?

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It sounds like he's been arrested multiple times, etc.

Why doesn't the poster include his photo, name, address, etc? Who is he? This ass needs to be named.


Nothing New

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Assuming it's the same guy, this has been an issue for a long time. As someone who used to live in the neighborhood, I've seen him in action and he does run if approached.

I believe some of the neighbors have won small claims judgements against him but given he has no money to speak of I doubt they were paid out.

Here's more on him from back in 2004!


no name no picture

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This guy is crazy enough. If he sees his name and photo on the news making him famous, he'll just do it more.

For the 100th time

Run a sting op. Plant a tree, set up a camera, and hide the cops around the corner. He lays a finger on it, cops jump out and arrest him. He points the knife at anybody, blow his skull out of his head in defense.

If anything I described above isn't legal, is sure as (expletive) should be.


Is it worth it?

Is it really worth it, though? I mean, if there's hard evidence out there, by all means, arrest this guy. Or at least get him some real mental health treatment.

There's no indication that he does this to sentient beings, which would truly be a sign a potential homicidal sociopath, so I'm not seeing a whole camera-and-cops-around-the-corner thing being worth it.

I'm curious as to what they'd charge him with? Destruction of private property, destruction of public property, andddd....?

So someone has to be a

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So someone has to be a homicidal sociopath before they're enough of a public menace to arrest then?

Killing a tree, especially a beautiful hundred-year-old one, is a huge public disservice. In addition to cleaning the air and providing the oxygen we breathe, trees significantly lower the ambient temperature during summer and provide shade, and they both increase property values and make streets more pleasant to live on.

And yes, they could charge the guy with destruction of public property. I'm not sure if there's really any precedent for a case regarding tree killings, but there have been plenty of cases of neighbors successfully suing over cutting down each others trees. At the very least the city could easily recover the cost of removing the now-dead trees and replanting new ones from him.


What are you talking about?!

When did I say not to arrest him? When did I say it was not destruction of property?

The only thing I said is, "is a camera and police hiding around the corner necessary?" I quite clearly said he should be arrested, and I said he could be arrested for destruction of property but asked what additional charges could there be.

Destruction of public property

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Street trees cost thousands of dollars when you combine the tree and the cost of installation.

Have you ever had to pay for tree work?

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Not only is destroying a full-grown tree horrible , it's also incredibly expensive for a homeowner to remove the rest of a dead or damaged tree. I'm sure that this guy has cost people a lot of money.


Ok, yeah...

Alright, yes, I agree with you. And? None of that is what's in question here.


If he's caused thousands of dollars

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in property damage and shows no sign if stopping then yes--I think a little basic detective work is in order. This is not my neighborhood but if it were then damn straight I'd expect a little surveillance or whatever it took to nab this guy.

Especially around here

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...where contractors jack rates to the max.

I worked for a landscaper in Bedford who bragged about the 250 bucks he'd bill some upscale homeowner for trimming a 3 inch diameter branch off of a fairly small arborvitae where little more was needed than a step ladder and a brush hand saw.

I woulda done it in 20 minutes for 15 bucks.

If bucket trucks are involved and arborists, it's probably a few thousand.

You're right

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Trees are overrated. I mean, what have they done for us lately?

not worth it, but apparently police want us to steer clear?

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I love it when police won't do anything, but tell citizens not to confront the guy because he carries a giant knife and is mentally imbalanced.

The trees are one thing. But why are BPD so casual about him carrying a huge weapon? And by casual I mean "do nothing but tell people to be afraid of him"?

Who is this guy? Why is nobody naming him? Where are the photos, so people know what this dangerous guy looks like?


His name

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Joseph Rizza. You can find old articles about him online if you search hard enough.

So....what does that change?

Run a sting op. Stake them out.

I swear to God, that's Will's answer for capturing every criminal out there. Run a sting op and jump out and grab the bad guy when he shows up. If I ever need a technical consultant for an Inspector Clouseau cartoon, I'll know who to ask.


Have moisture detectors on the MBTA floors

Have moisture detectors on the MBTA floors, and if anyone pisses or or spits, a camera will pan around and find the perp, and then dispatch will tell the cops hiding in the broom closet. We got the bastard, now!

In this case he may be right

Put in a tree. Put in a surveillance camera. That doesn't sound all that tricky, especially when the guy just can't seem to resist killing the trees around him. It isn't like the tree would be a moving target.

Put in a surveillance camera.

Put in a surveillance camera.

That's a little different than "hide the cops around the corner", like they have nothing better to do than crouch in the shadows for hours or days on end. In any case, though, it doesn't sound like identifying the guy is the problem.

Good point

You would probably be able to get neighbors to take shifts monitoring the camera so they could call cops immediately, too.

21st century

It's the 21st century, Swirls. You don't need to sit watching a CCTV video monitor. You can connect your cam to wifi and overwrite on a 24 hour loop to a server, then just roll back to where the tree gets hit. That'll cost you less than a tree.


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The headline says "ninja", but shouldn't it read "jackass?"


That is insulsting

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to both ninjas and jackasses. The mules that helped us win WWII had jackasses for fathers.

But, yeah, you're right.

Um, does "long-handled blade"

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Um, does "long-handled blade" concern anyone else? Is that even legal to possess/carry in public? Forget the trees, the crazy person with a sword is enough to concern me.


Long-handled blade is one of

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Long-handled blade is one of those butcherings of the language, like "normalcy" or "at the present time", that are formulaic but don't really mean too much. It is so vague that it could accurately describe almost any cutting tool. Just say what he used. Was it a knife, a hatchet, a machete, a lopping saw or what ?


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A neighborhood watch armed with pepper spray might help. Then again I'm not confronting a guy with a sword. If he's literally armed and dangerous. Why can't they arrest him for walking around with a sword? Put cameras up. How can this problem be so insurmountable.

The city should pay for a detail to catch this guy if he is out so much with his sword.



Confront him

If he's stabbing trees, he's probably too much of a coward to actually come after a person.

AB+DW = 10

Or it might mean he is crazy

Or it might mean he is crazy enough to stab a person if confronted.

In a way, it seems they can't get rid of him because he's not doing anything heinous enough to removing him for a significant amount of time. At the same time, I'm not one to call for any volunteers to get shank by a man who spends his time stabbing trees.


Sounds like one of those

Sounds like one of those typical obese video game nerds obsessed with japanese cartoons who lives in mom's basement and keeps those those "authentic sword" stores in the mall afloat

Uhh, what?

If we're going to stereotype, then we shouldn't just come out with random accusations. I can't imagine someone like that going around hacking at trees for years on end. This guy is clearly disturbed in some way.


Isn't D-14 like, literally,

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Isn't D-14 like, literally, within eye shot of this intersection?..... Anyone else see the problem here.. with a guy rocking a sword slashing trees on the street?

Oh, if only this were like SimCity ...

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Where plopping a police station down immediately reduces the crime rate for blocks around.

I used to think like that about various incidents of mayhem right behind BPD headquarters (and the time the Papa Gino's within eyesight of E-18 got held up by guys with shotguns), but the fact is, the areas immediately around a police station probably aren't much safer than anywhere else, except maybe at shift-change times, because ideally most of the cops are out patrolling their district, not hanging around the police station.


This has gotta be a

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..whoyaknow thing.

I think I found a photo.

He's a G plus user who mainly has Brittany Spears and Sports Ill Swimsuits as 'friends,' 419 views.

Seems to have a younger relative, daughter maybe? And seems to live with an older sister or something..

The photo must be a cache ghost cause when you click it goes generic.

If it's him, he's a big guy with a beard and he was decked out in all black in the pic.


CSI psych

I wonder what that creepy psychopathologist guy on CSI would say about the "ninja" and his motivations?

It sounds like this person

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It sounds like this person should be involuntarily committed to an institution.


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getting somebody pink slipped in MA is not that easy, nor should it be. putting somebody on an involuntary three-day hold (assuming they are over the age of 18) to a psych facility requires the appropriate people (psychologists, doctors, police, etc.) attest that not committing the person would be "create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness". serious harm means harming themselves, harming others, or unable to defend themselves against harm. you could maybe make an argument for that third one, but it would be tough.

so even if you got that, after three days if the person wanted to leave, you would have to go through a civil commitment to hold them. standard for that is even harder because now you need to prove that they are dangerous, that there is no less restrictive alternative possible, and you gotta prove both of these beyond a reasonable doubt.

if you think this person suffers from a serious mental illness, there are many better options before one locks him up against his will.

And those would be...

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You may as well move beyond glib and give us a bucket list of these "other options" while we wait to see if he'll get bored with tree slashing and try something more animate.

We have a short guy with short guy anxieties who tries to overcome them with steroids and body building kinda like Jared Remy and that nut bag who killed a cop in NH not long ago.

And he lives in a state noted for lazy, half assed social workers, nut job minders and cops who would rather be slurping detail overtime gravy at movie location shoots.

It is a veritable Simpsons world come to life.

Good thing I'll never have a reason to wander around lower Allston at night.

I hope Matthew, the urban planning buff, and my friend Paola will be okay.

And we can always be grateful that he probably flunked out of gun ownership.

I bet he'd really be fun with an ArmaLite and a bunch of fully loaded banana clips.

I wonder if the trees are projections of objectified women who haven't been too eager to know him?