Suspect in Boardman clown incident charged with child endangering, inducing panic
By Jordyn Grzelewski
A police report sheds light on details of an incident over the weekend in which a man was arrested after reports of him chasing his 6-year-old daughter through a neighborhood while wearing a clown mask.
That man is Vernon Lee Barrett Jr., 25, of Aravesta Avenue. He faces charges of inducing panic and endangering a child. He is scheduled to appear in Mahoning County Area Court today for arraignment.
According to the report, police were called to Aravesta at 11:22 p.m. Saturday after a caller reported a young girl had jumped into her vehicle “and was being chased by an older male with a mask.”
The caller waited for police on Lemans Drive, where police reported finding Barrett standing in a driveway “with a clown mask on his head.”
Police reported another man, Dion Santiago, 48, of Lemans, was calling out his window to them.
When police talked to Barrett, he said he “was playing a prank on his 6-year-old daughter by chasing her with a clown mask, and she had ran into Santiago’s apartment,” according to the report. Barrett told police he did not know Santiago and Santiago had fired a gun at him.
The child was located inside the apartment, where she told police, “There is a clown chasing me,” according to the report. An officer attempted to tell her it was OK and that it was her father, but the child reportedly ran into a bedroom and had to be coaxed out.
The incident continued to escalate, according to the report, with Santiago and Barrett yelling at each other and family members of both men showing up, prompting the officer on scene to call for assistance.
Santiago told police that while he and some family members were sitting outside, the child ran into his unlocked apartment, telling them she was scared and wanted to stay with them because a clown was chasing her.
Santiago then reported seeing Barrett standing outside the apartment window wearing a clown mask, prompting Santiago to grab a gun and fire a shot out the window. Santiago told police he never aimed the gun at Barrett, but fired into an adjacent yard.
Santiago was arrested on charges of using weapons while intoxicated, and also is scheduled to appear in county court today.
Police reported Barrett told them he has been having “behavior issues” with the child. He said he decided to use the clown mask as a way to get his daughter to behave, according to the report.