BIG BEAVER BOROUGH (KDKA) — It started out as a search for missing scrap metal, but in the end, two neighbors are now facing charges.
It all began on Monday evening in Big Beaver Borough in Beaver County.
Joseph Franer, 52, of Wampum, went to his mother’s house in Big Beaver where he had been storing scrap metal in the woods behind her home.
When he discovered the metal was missing, he followed the trail through the woods to the home of Leslie Dallas, 59, of Koppel, a neighbor.
State police say when Franer saw Dallas trying to dismantle the materials with a power saw, he threw a hammer and a saw at him.
“He came storming over in a rage and taking steel and throwing it at us and calling us [N-word] and other ethnic slurs,” Dallas said.
The Dallas family sells scrap every year to fund an annual family trip to the beach. The family says they readily offered to return the scrap.
“I think it’s more about race because when he raced over, I mean, the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘You [N-word] have no business in our neighborhood,’” Dallas said.
While allegedly hurling racial slurs, Franer also picked up a pipe and broke the windshield and a window on Dallas’ conversion van.
Investigators say Franer’s rage didn’t stop there. He went back to his mother’s house and called state police, telling them he was going to shoot someone.
Franer then allegedly hopped on a front loader, drove back to Dallas’ house through the woods, lifted Dallas’ Ford Focus 20-feet in the air and dropped it. He also crushed the roof of the car.
“He took the front end of it and he just went … down like two or three times and said, ‘There you [N-word]. Now how you like that?’” Dallas told KDKA-TV.
“It was like being on ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’,” Tandra Dallas, Leslie’s wife, said.
State police say he drove back through the woods to his mother’s house to wait for the police. They took him into custody for questioning.
Franer agreed to talk to KDKA’s John Shumway by phone, but after talking to his attorney, he decided against it.
Franer is facing charges of ethnic intimidation, simple assault and criminal mischief. Dallas is facing a theft charge.
“I really don’t feel that I stole it because it was old, abandoned scrap,” Dallas said. “And that’s what scrappers do – they find old abandoned stuff.”
Both men face a preliminary hearing.