Elizabeth Evans, York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch, May 3, 2007
A York City man who spent years working to clean up the Codorus Creek in York City had to fight off a group of youths who attacked him for no reason as he walked home from work Thursday evening.
And city detectives said some of the youths who attacked him are the same teens who beat and robbed a 10th-grade student last Thursday.
Leisses, 28, of Lincoln Street, said he was at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Lincoln Street around 7 p.m. when he saw a group of 15 to 20 youths hanging out at the nearby bus stop. He was walking on the other side of the street.
“I hear them running up behind me. I turn around, it was 13- or 14-year-olds . . . probably like four or five of them,” he said. “They stopped and squared up (to fight).”
“A bunch of kids came up behind me again, from the other side, and that’s when they started to jump me.”
‘Cowards’: One of the teens had a large board with a nail in it, which he used to hit Leisses in the head, York City Police said. Although hit with the board, Leisses was not struck by the nail.
“These kids are cowards,” he said. “When they realized I was fighting back, half of them backed up. They’d run up, throw a punch and run away. . .. They didn’t get me on the ground, fortunately. If they had, they would’ve kicked the s— out of me, and they probably would’ve robbed me.”
Leisses, who is 6-feet-2 and 210 pounds, said he fought off teen after teen, and was able to move the attack into the middle of Roosevelt Avenue, assuming someone would stop and help, or at least call police.
At least 20 people merely drove past, he said.
Finally, a car stopped and the lone woman inside beckoned him to get in, then handed him her cell phone and told him to call 911 while she followed the fleeing youths to Smyser Street.
“I’m thankful for her,” said Leisses, who did not seek medical attention. During the attack, his cell phone fell to the ground and was stolen, police said.
Attackers ID’d: He said that on Monday, he and police went to Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School so he could identify some of the perpetrators. Yesterday, he went to the city police station and identified more, through photographs.
City Detective First Class Jeff Spence said he expects he and Officer Matthew Leitzel will soon make at least four arrests—and possibly as many as eight.
And Detective George Ripley expects to arrest several of those same youths for Thursday’s attack on 15-year-old Nicholas Vasquez of York City.
Vasquez was walking home from his school-bus stop around 3:45 p.m. when four youths jumped him in the 500 block of Rockdale Avenue. He was hit on the back of the head with a board and robbed of his iPod and skating videos, according to police, who said it’s the third time Nicholas has been attacked by youths in the last several months.
At least some of the youths live on Smyser Street and refer to their group as “S-Block,” Spence said.
Youths out of control: Leisses said he’s disgusted by the growing problem of out-of-control, violent youths, who he said regularly yell profanities at him and call him a “cracker.”
“You tell me: What’s a ‘nice’ part of the city anymore? There’s no such thing,” he said. “I used to tell everybody how safe York is, and how I never had a problem. But things have changed for the worse. These kids are out of control, and there’s no consequences for their actions, at school or at home.”
‘Take our streets back’: Leisses said residents of the city must stand together to help police keep the peace.
“It’s up to us as citizens to take our streets back, to be a presence out on the streets instead of being locked up in our houses,” he said. “It’s either hole up in my house and fear for myself and my family, or go out there and do something and let the chips fall where they may.”
“If people start to stand up, the kids will stand down,” he said. “I’ve taught a lot of these kids in the school and out on the creek. (It’s) one of my favorite things to do. But now, I don’t know if I want to do it anymore . . . until something is done to clean up the streets.”