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'Bored' Vandals Admit Hurling Ax into Isham Park Trees

By Carla Zanoni | March 27, 2012 6:46am

INWOOD — Vandals who cops say admitted hurling an ax and knives into the trunks of several trees in Isham Park told police they threw the blades for "sportsmanship and fun."

Cops arrested Jonathan Li, 29, of Inwood, and Salvatore Chiarelli, 26, of Brooklyn, after catching them inside the park just after midnight on March 4, with one of their axes still embedded in a nearby tree, according to court documents.

Police from the 34th Precinct found the pair after receiving a 911 report that two men were wielding an ax in the park. Cops caught the pair red-handed, police said.

Li admitted to police he was "bored and ... throwing the ax at the tree for sportsmanship and fun," according to the criminal complaint. 

Chiarelli also admitted he hurled the ax, court records show.

Li was charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree, possession of a graffiti tool and making graffiti. 

Chiarelli, who was also found with an illegal "gravity knife," which opens with a flick of the wrist instead of having a locking blade, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief in the fourth degree and making graffiti. 

Both men were released on their own recognizance after the incident.

Li is due back in court on May 1, and Chiarelli is due in court April 25. 

The early March incident reignited concerns throughout Inwood, where tree vandalism and arborcide incidents have recurred annually over the past several years. In each incident multiple trees were vandalized or chopped down with what appears to be an ax.

In 2006, 26 red cedar trees were attacked. In 2008, 30 red cedar trees were chopped down. And in 2009, 17 tulip, pine, sugar maples and hackberry trees were taken down or damaged in Inwood Hill Park. That perpetrator has not yet been caught. 

According to police, Chiarelli and Li are not suspected in those incidents.