It was a little more than two months ago when a 44-year-old butcher named David Toledo had a message for the vandal who was slashing car tires up and down his block of Aldine Street and on nearby streets in his Holmesburg neighborhood.
"I feel like butchering the one who is doing this," Toledo said shortly after reporting to police that all four tires on his Jeep Cherokee had been slashed, just one week after the same thing had happened to his wife's car.
Wednesday night, Toledo's outraged neighbors had a message for him: Back at ya, pal.
The news that police had arrested Toledo in connection with the wave of tire slashings that had plagued parts of the Northeast angered and infuriated his neighbors, as they spilled out onto front steps on a bright spring evening to gossip and to vent.
Adding insult to the injured tires is the fact that Toledo had been arguably the most vocal neighbor in speaking out against the vandalism and in urging fellow residents to organize a community watch group to nab the slasher.
"He'd better stay in jail because if he comes out there's not going to be much left of him," said Mike Wagner, standing on his porch a few doors down from Toledo's house with his daughter and son-in-law, as they watched the buzz of activity on the street.
Said his son-in-law, Anthony Hinsworth: "He better get his car off the street because people are going to get stab-happy real quick."
At a Wednesday night news conference at Northeast Detectives, police said Toledo was responsible for vandalizing 55 cars on Aldine and Teesdale Streets between Frankford Avenue and Erdick Street since November.
Toledo is charged with three counts of felony criminal mischief, 47 of misdemeanor criminal mischief, seven of possession of an instrument of crime, and five of making false reports. Police did not provide details on how the investigation led to Toledo but said he had been a suspect for some time.
Police Capt. Frank Bachmayer advised neighbors not to retaliate against the alleged vandal's family. "Let the justice system take care of Mr. Toledo," he said.
With Toledo's wife, Yvonne, holed up in her house with her two small dogs and police cars parked in front of the neat rowhouses — a near-constant presence since the first attacks were reported last fall — neighbors railed over the arrest of the man who some say they suspected might be involved.
Oliver Pagan, 32, said he was going to work at 4 a.m. one day this month when police found some slashed tires.
"All of a sudden, [Toledo] comes out of his house, 'Did tires get slashed? Did tires get slashed?' How'd he know?" Pagan said. "I thought that was suspicious."
After the Toledos moved in, they went to everyone's house, asking neighbors to sign off on a block party, which would close the street to traffic, and for contributions for a DJ, according to residents. But instead of a neighborhood affair with games and activities for children, the couple had a wedding.
"She came out in a dress and got married in the middle of the street," said Jill Pagan, 32.
Others said they befriended the couple and felt betrayed.
"I'm in shock," said a teary Karen Woldshmit, 57, who lives next door and said she had known Yvonne Toledo for 20 years. "We got real close."
That didn't protect her from the wrath of the slasher: She had a total of eight tires slashed, more than any other resident.
Yvonne Toledo, she said, "is one of the most beautiful people I've ever known in my life. I know she doesn't know what happened."
Neighbors said she was home Wednesday evening, and the curtains moved at a knock at the door, but the door didn't open. A little while later, David Toledo's mother walked up the steps of the home, which was decorated with pots of colorful plastic flowers, wind chimes, and spinners. Asked if she thought her son was involved in the slashings, she said, "No, I don't," and let herself in the front door.
Casting himself as a crime-fighter and neighborhood hero, Toledo loved the limelight, said Hinsworth.
Jill Pagan, who had three tires slashed on her Honda Civic, said she thinks Toledo is a thrill-seeker, like firefighters who set fires.
"We just have to pray for him. What else can you do?" she said, though restitution for the cost of her slashed tires would help.
Her husband was less forgiving.
"If it is him, and he smiled in my face and talked to me every day and was slicing my wife's tires? If I wouldn't get in trouble, I'd like to break his hands," said Oliver Pagan.
Contact Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.