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After Seeing 10-Year-Old Son On News Vandalizing West Pullman Seniors' Building, Mom Brings Him Right Back To Apologize And Learn A Lesson

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Video that was on our news Monday night at 10 p.m. showed children 10 and younger vandalizing a building for seniors in the West Pullman neighborhood and leaving the residents terrorized.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Tuesday night, it just so happens that a mother of one of those kids watched in disbelief – recognizing her son. And the mom made her son apologize.

Kiara Cunningham works a security job, keeping buildings safe. So you can only imagine her disbelief when she spotted her son on video doing wrong.

Mom was not having it, and returned her 10-year-old son to the scene of the crime for a life lesson.

Cunningham was floored when CBS 2 aired the video of the youngsters vandalizing the seniors' building on South Halsted Street.

"That's my son. My son is on the news," she said, "and I replayed it again to make sure that I was seeing what I was seeing."

Despite the faces of the children being blurred in the video, Cunningham recognized her 10-year-old, Ja'Shawn Watson.

Ja'Shawn and two other friends had decided to sneak into the secured building and scare the seniors before leaving with a fire extinguisher.

"I knew my child," Cunningham said. "I know his body and the way he walks from anywhere.".

So the mother chose to walk her son right back to the building and make him look the property manager in her face. When that happened, Ja'Shawn owned up to his mistake.

"I'm sorry for coming into y'all place, or take your stuff," Ja'Shawn told property manager Arletha Patterson Smith.

"OK, and I accept – humbly accept your apology," Patterson Smith said.

It was a move that Cunningham said she didn't hesitate to make her son do.

"I told him: 'You're going to go in there and apologize, because you guys terrified those people. That could have been your grandmother; that could have been me in there, you know?'" Cunningham said, "and I said, 'That's something you don't do.'"

Terry asked Ja'Shawn, "How did that make you feel to see your mom so mad at something you did?"

Ja'Shawn replied, "Sad."

"I do my job," Cunningham said, "It's just that he was at a place at the wrong time and he followed behind the wrong people."

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Yet, the property manager was overjoyed by Ja'Shawn's mother's humility.

"To come here and see them both, I have nothing but love and respect for her," Patterson Smith said, "and we're here to help."

They have teamed Ja'Shawn with a mentor from the Urban Male Network to keep him on the right track and make a decision moving forward.

"Because I know that all it takes is having the right people around you to kind of steer you in the right direction," said Marlon Haywood of the Urban Male Network.

As for Ja'Shawn, he will be hanging around the seniors' building for good. Part of his apology is to pick up leaves and keep the building tidy for weeks, so he can get to know the seniors living in his community.


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