Rock Hill teens charged in assault on neighbor; parents say teens were provoked

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJuly 24, 2013 

— The teenager who allegedly tossed fireworks into Ryan Lochbaum’s garage three weeks ago, setting it on fire, is the same teen police accuse of joining his brother and several others in beating the Rock Hill husband and father outside his home last weekend.

The parents of the suspects say their sons were provoked by the victims, the latest in a series of disputes between neighbors.

Police on Saturday were sent to a Gentle Breeze Lane home in the Soft Winds Village subdivision, after Claire Lochbaum, 35, called police and said several teenagers were assaulting her husband in front of her, according to a Rock Hill Police report. By the time police arrived, the suspects were gone.

Ryan Lochbaum suffered bruises on his face and arms. He told officers that “neighborhood kids” jumped on him in retaliation after he pressed charges against D’aaron Boyd Colston, 17, for damage to his property.

While Ryan Lochbaum was outside the family’s home with the couple’s 9-year-old son and a neighbor’s child, a group of seven boys walked up to him. Claire Lochbaum said her husband took out his phone and hit “record” after police advised him to record any interactions he had with teens in the neighborhood.

When she told the teens she was calling police, two of them left. Three of them jumped on her husband, she said, and started hitting.

He dropped the phone so she picked it up and recorded it all, police said, capturing Colston throwing the first punch and his brother later joining in the attack.

Ryan Lochbaum, the report states, told police the boys confronted him after a verbal dispute. He told officers he did not know the other teens’ names, but he knew they lived in the area. He told authorities the same teens continually harass him and he is beginning to fear for his family’s safety.

Incidents between the Lochbaums and the neighborhood teens started about two years ago when Ryan Lochbaum said he noticed one of them on his property, looking into cars, while he was in his garage. He said his cat later was injured by one of the boys.

On July 6, Ryan Lochbaum reported that he heard five loud blasts before seeing flames in his garage. After extinguishing the flames and evacuating his family, he ran outside and went to April Showers Lane, where he noticed a teenager, later identified as Colston, running away, leaving behind a sandal.

Ryan Lochbaum said he ran into Darryl Colston, Colston’s father, and showed him the damaged electric fan, clothes basket and metallic locksmith pieces.

Darryl Colston told police he did not recognize the sandal as belonging to either of his sons. Ryan Lochbaum told police he was sure Colston was responsible and later identified him in a photo lineup as the teenager he chased.

Investigators confirmed that it appeared fireworks were thrown into the home, causing about $700 in damage. Police issued a warrant for Colston, who turned himself in to authorities on July 11. He was charged with damage to property and was released from jail on a $2,130 bond.

Court documents show that “someone” wrote “no contact” in Colston’s bond paperwork, but a “no contact” order was never signed by a judge, said Rock Hill Clerk of Court Diane Anderson.

The video and photos the Lochbaums took identify Colston and three others, police said. Only three were arrested.

One of them was Letita Williams’ 16-year-old son, she said.

Williams’ son said Ryan Lochbaum saw the group of teens walking down the street on Saturday and began yelling at them, calling them “scumbags” and telling them they belong in jail.

The boys tried to walk away, but she said Lochbaum said something to the teens that instigated the assault. Her son was arrested and charged Sunday, and sent to a Department of Juvenile Justice holding facility until his first appearance in Family Court on Tuesday. He was placed under house arrest and released to his mother with an ankle monitor.

Early Sunday, police found Colston and his brother, 16, at their April Showers Lane home, a short walk from the victim’s home, and arrested them. Colston and his brother were charged with third-degree assault and battery by a mob – a misdemeanor carrying no more than one year behind bars.

Colston also was charged with intimidation of a witness, a felony carrying a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Wednesday, he was being held at the York County Detention Center on a $300,000 bond.

The younger Colston boy was released Tuesday with an ankle monitor and placed under house arrest, said his mother, Tracey Colston.

Tracey Colston said her sons have been “unjustly” blamed for many problems that occur in the neighborhood. She said they have been stereotyped and disrespected by their neighbors.

No charges had been filed, Tracey Colston said, until Saturday.

Darryl Colston said his sons were harassed at least three days before the assault. He said the family was aware D’aaron Colston should not have been in contact with Ryan Lochbaum, but he says the neighbor approached his sons first.

“D’aaron was going home,” Darryl Colston said, “when (the neighbor) approached” him and the boys and told them they should be in jail.

Reprisals ‘very rare’

Victims and witnesses to crime are sometimes reluctant to cooperate with police because they fear retaliation, said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department.

Police are unable to offer protection around the clock, though he said police will patrol or do property checks if requested.

“A lot of potential witnesses have that potential concern,” said Willy Thompson, deputy 16th Circuit Court solicitor. “They fear testifying ... and fear reprisal.”

But, Thompson said, it’s “very rare that any reprisals occur.”

“When they do, they’re prosecuted rather heavily,” he said. “We have a big interest in making sure that doesn’t happen.”

Still, there is little available in the criminal justice system to ensure that it doesn’t, he said.

The damage to property allegations made against Colston, Thompson said, are “magistrate-level” charges that generally don’t make it to General Sessions court, where felony-level offenses are heard and tried.

Now, it will.

“There’s certainly a strong interest in making sure people don’t feel threatened and are not threatened because they’ve been victimized,” Thompson said.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service