A man was arrested Saturday in Ohio for trying to scare his daughter by chasing her around the neighborhood wearing a clown mask, reports said. Another man was also arrested for firing a gun amidst the melee that ensued.
The father, Vernon Barrett, Jr., was charged with child endangerment and inducing panic.
On Saturday shortly after 10 p.m. EDT, Barrett Jr. chased his six-year-old daughter wearing the mask apparently in a bid to discipline her.
The scared girl ran into a neighboring apartment in Boardman Township, Mahoning County, and begged the people there to save her.
Before running into the apartment, the girl had reportedly jumped into a stranger’s car. She reportedly told the residents in the apartment that a clown was chasing her, according to the police, the New York Times reported.
Police said the family looked out of the window and saw Barrett Jr.. Dion Santiago, a man at the apartment pulled a gun and fired a shot into his yard. Though it didn't hit Barrett Jr., it stopped him from chasing his daughter and remain on the scene till the police arrived.
Barrett Jr. was arrested and Santiago was charged with using weapons while intoxicated, according to the police.
The father initially told the police he reportedly wore the mask as part of a prank, but later accepted he was using it to discipline his daughter instead of spanking her as she had been misbehaving, according to Fox40.com.
Barret Jr. cited an incident with the girl's mother to justify what he did. He told the police the girl's mother has been serving jail time for child endangerment after being convicted for breaking four of the girl's ribs after beating her, ABC affiliate WYTV reported.
Clowns have always maintained a terrifying presence in American popular culture, something which has been propagated and exploited by Hollywood.
Recently, police in Pennsylvania were "terrified" after a prankster tied a red balloon to a sewer grate, probably as a tribute to Stephen King's horror film "It" that released on Sept. 8. The movie is about a killer who poses as a clown to hunt down children.
"A certain movie is coming to theaters in two days, and a local prankster took it upon themselves to promote the movie," the Lititz Borough Police Department wrote on Facebook. "We give points for creativity, however we want the local prankster to know that we were completely terrified as we removed these balloons from the grates and we respectfully request they do not do that again. If you're not sure what we're talking about, search ‘It’ and watch the preview, but we suggest watching the preview with a friend or coworker with all the lights on and the sound down low."
Since the movie doesn’t portray clowns in the best light, local clowns in Ohio expressed fears that it would negatively impact their business.
"I wish they could use some other character to do a horror movie instead of a clown," Diamonds the Magical Clown, who refused to divulge her real name, told WJW-TV after the sewer grate incident. "A clown is supposed to be a symbol of happiness."