NEW PORT RICHEY — Ding-dong!
Three shadowy youths rang Calvin Kemp's doorbell. They fled into the dark.
A second time, they ran. Calvin Kemp, 54, hid outside.
When they approached for a third time late Saturday night, authorities said, Kemp emerged from the bushes beside his home, running. He carried a wooden baseball bat.
Kemp caught up to a 12-year-old boy and swung the bat into his chest, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report. He raised the bat again, to strike, but the boy screamed, and he stopped.
Kemp ordered the boy, 5 feet 3 and 110 pounds, to sit on the porch of his two-story home, in the WatersEdge gated subdivision's Manistique Way, the report said. Kemp tied the boy's legs together so he couldn't escape.
When deputies arrived, Kemp told them he tied the boy up but said the hit was accidental. He said he didn't know the boy was 12. Deputies said the boy had bruises and a big red mark on his chest.
Kemp, who has no prior arrests, was charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child under 13. He posted $6,000 bail Sunday and was released from the Land O'Lakes Jail.
Authorities did not release the boy's name.
Kemp, a real estate agent, said the incident last weekend marked only his family's most recent harassment.
Kids — he never knew who — had for two years rung his home's doorbell, banged on the garage door, broken his mailbox and peeped through windows, he said. Sometimes they would open the valve of the propane tank on his grill.
The worst, Kemp said, happened two years ago. Someone opened the gas tank of Kemp's black-and-red 2008 Ford F-150, stuffed in a neon green strip torn from a shirt sleeve and set the cloth ablaze, according to a Pasco crime report. The fire burnt out before exploding. The arsonists got away.
"In my view, ringing doorbells, okay, it's mischievous kids," Kemp told the St. Petersburg Times on Monday. "But when you open up a gas tank and put a rag down the spout and light it on fire … that elevates this thing to a huge degree. We're talking about a bomb."
The scoundrels always ran off "under the cover of darkness," he said. Saturday's game of ding-dong-ditch was different. After the first ring he called his subdivision's security guards. On the second time, his family caught the kids in the act.
"My wife saw the silhouette of a stranger and freaked out," he said. "We've been traumatized. You know, that expression — prisoners in our own home."
Kemp had had enough. He waited outside in ambush, clutching the bat.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.