Neighbors in Lake Highlands Help Save a Decades-Old Tree

A fight over a decades-old tree in a Dallas neighborhood leaves one man in handcuffs.

The tree in the Lake Highlands area has long served as a photo opportunity for neighbors.

"It provided this great horizontal bench that everyone sat on for pictures and the children climbed on it,” said Amy Martin, who lives in the area. 

On Thursday, neighbors said a man with a chainsaw began buzzing his way through the place that served as a playground for so many.

Martin said neighbors confronted the man, 65-year-old Albert Santos, and told him to stop.

"That guy would have taken the whole tree if we didn't stop him. He would have taken the entire tree," said Martin.

She said one neighbor even used his truck to block Santos until the police arrived. 

"The tree is decimated. It’s absolutely decimated. This is its fourth vandalism attack, but what this man did was he basically destroyed the defining feature of the tree… which was the horizontal trunk."

For his part, Santos said he thought the tree had been damaged in a storm and was fair game to cut down. 

After being charged with criminal mischief, Santos now claims he only wants to make things right.

"I'd be willing to put something there, and spend my time and money to let them know how sorry I am. Because I just don't go around doing that," Santos said.

Martin said she hopes in the future that people will leave their beloved tree alone.

"We're just going to have to learn to love the way the tree looks now. It’s always going to be our landmark tree, but it doesn't look like it used to. It will never be the same,” she said.

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