After attempted break-in, a victim saw an opportunity to change a young man’s life

In January, there was an attempted break-in at a nonprofit run by Ralph Rodriguez, a city councilman in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

The suspect, who wore gloves, a hat, glasses and a mask, took off running when confronted by Rodriguez. All he left behind was a grainy image on a doorbell camera. So, he could have gotten away with the attempted break-in, if only he hadn’t reached out to Rodriguez on social media, offering his name and confession. 

“I have to be willing to face the consequences and that is what I’m ready to do,” he told Rodriguez. 

For most crime victims, that would be case closed. But for Rodriguez, it was an opportunity. He didn’t want to add another young man to the prison rolls, especially one with no prior criminal record. So instead of pressing charges, he pressed for answers. 

“I actually took the time to hear his story, see the environment in which he lives in,” Rodriguez said. “And I get it. Poverty has a way of pushing you to do things that you would have never imagined you were even capable of doing.”

The young man, 22-year-old Rashawn Turner, agreed to talk to CBS News on the condition that his face not be shown. 

“I made a severe lapse in my judgement that night,” Turner said. “My father was struggling with basic needs and I was like, I can’t sit here and just wait for what little we still have to be taken away. I have to do something.”

When Rodriguez heard that, he did something. He started sending him money. 

“Making sure he’s financially good and has some clothes on his back,” Rodriguez said. “Because what he doesn’t need any more is any more disappointments. I’m pretty sure people have told him things in his life and dropped the ball 10 out of 10 times. It’s just not what I’m prepared to do.” 

He also gave him part-time work, painting the very place he just tried to burglarize and set him up with job training.

“I thought there would be no one willing to help me, but you never know, you just have to ask,” Turner said. “But I wasn’t willing to ask.” 

Turner said he is not going to waste his second chance. 

“You just need a shot,” Rodriguez said. “And I’d be remiss if I didn’t try my best to give you that shot.”

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: [email protected].   

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