Angry over sap, man cuts down neighbor's tree - and sends it onto his own apartment house

PITTSTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A Pennsylvania man cut down his neighbor's tree over the weekend because he thought it was ruining his car. The tree ended up hitting his own apartment house.

Police said Raymond Mazzarella grabbed a chainsaw and cut down the tree in his neighbor's yard Saturday afternoon. The tree sat in his neighbor's yard, but it had branches above his parking space. Those branches would drip sap onto his car. When he cut through the 36-inch wide trunk, the tree fell onto part of his own apartment building.

“He decided it was the best thing to do, to get rid of the tree, where he thought it was going to go, I don't know,” said Terry Best, a Pittston Township code enforcement officer.

Authorities condemned the building on Oak Street in Pittston Township, and five people have to find new places to stay.

Rick Woods also lived in the apartment house until it was condemned.  When the tree fell, Woods was in his apartment sitting on his couch watching TV. All of a sudden he heard a big crash.

“I thought a tractor trailer lost his breaks and ran into something, not realizing it was the house,” he said.

Police said Mazzarella was being checked out at a hospital. Upon his release Monday afternoon, a neighbor saw Mazzarella trespassing near the apartment house and called police.

When the neighbor confronted him, Mazzarella punched him. The neighbor pulled out a stun gun to protect himself. Mazzarella then started hitting him with a baseball bat.

Mazzarella is charged with assault and harassment and is locked up in the Luzerne County jail on $10,000 bail.

The Red Cross is helping the others who lived in the apartment building with temporary places to stay. That's all Woods is hoping for.

“I find a place to live. That's about it,” he said.

Officials aren't sure when or if people will be allowed back in the building because the foundation has shifted.

“It's going to be a long time before somebody gets back in here,” Best said.