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Mentor Steps In For Boy Who Was Caught Vandalizing Seniors' Building And Was Sent Back By His Mom To Apologize

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CBS 2 this week told you the story of young boys vandalizing a senior home in West Pullman, and how a mother of one of the young boys forced him to fess up.

On Wednesday, CBS 2's Marissa Parra followed up on how a local mentor is stepping up now too.

"They went outside that door; not sure how they got in. It was a group of boys 8 to 10 years old. They went in, grabbed the fire extinguisher," said mentor Dr. Marlon Haywood. "I'm like, oh my God, that's my aunt's building."

Haywood saw the same footage the rest of us saw on CBS 2 Monday night. Young boys were wreaking havoc on the building where his aunt works – the Hancock House senior home near 120th and Halsted streets in the West Pullman neighborhood.

But Haywood was not angry.

"It made me sad because when you look at the news and what's going on right now. You have the pandemic, the rioting, the looting," Haywood said. "I think it's important to understand they're still kids."

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry first reported, it all started when that surveillance footage caught the eye of the mom, Kiara Cunningham.

"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."

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

Her son, 10-year-old Ja'Shawn Watson, knew he was in big trouble.

"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."

But big trouble mean owning up to what he did and apologizing in person, which came with a few tears.

"You find out he's 10 and you're like, 10? What is he thinking?" Haywood said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for kids of hardworking single parents, which is why Haywood is stepping up. He has been a mentor with Urban Male Network, and now, he is volunteering to be Ja'Shawn's new mentor too.

"They can do pool, ping pong, video games," Haywood said.

They would be doing the usual things that might spark creativity, and conversations, in a safe environment.

"I told him the next time Lakers play the Bulls, I told him we're going to get tickets and go to the game," Haywood said.

Over the years, Urban Male Network has mentored roughly 100 kids and teens from around Chicago.

Haywood and Ja'Shawn will have their first mentoring meeting this weekend.

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