Ohio father, neighbor charged after clown ‘prank’ on little girl (VIDEO)

WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Just when we thought the whole creepy clown craze was over, the recent release of the new “It” movie has apparently rekindled that fire, and police say one Ohio father’s attempt to scare his little girl with a clown mask landed him and his neighbor – who tried to help the girl – in jail over the weekend.

Police in Boardman Township say the incident started shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday when Vernon Barrett Jr., 25, put on a clown mask and started chasing his 6-year-old daughter. Sgt. Chuck Hillman with Boardman Police said the child was terrified.

“He caused her to flee and run in a manner where she ran out in front of a vehicle and then ran into someone’s apartment that she didn’t even now,” Hillman said.

After nearly being hit by a car, the little girl hopped into that car seeking help, but Barrett apparently pulled her out of the car so he could continue to chase her. The occupants of the car immediately called 911 to report the incident.

The child then ran to a nearby apartment where Dion Santiago, 48, lives. Authorities say the little girl did not know Santiago, but ran into the apartment simply because the door was unlocked. Once inside, she told the residents that she was being chased by a clown.

At that point, Santiago closed the front door, turned off the porch light, and looked outside the window to see a man – Barrett – standing outside wearing a clown mask. Santiago grabbed a gun and fired a warning shot to scare the clown off.

Hillman said they’re fortunate the child wasn’t injured, but she’s far from okay.

“She was very scared and alarmed even when the officers explained to her that it was her father it still took her a while to calm down and regain her composure,” Hillman said.

Barrett admitted to “playing a prank” and said he did it because the child had been misbehaving and he wanted to teach her a lesson. He was arrested and charged with child endangerment and inducing panic.

Barrett claims the girl’s mother is currently in jail on child endangerment charges and that they have been unable to discipline the child due to past trauma. Hillman, however, said they have been unable to verify that information at this point.

Santiago, who had been drinking a few beers while watching a fight on TV when the terrified child barged into his apartment, was charged with operating a firearm while intoxicated.

Both men are due in court Tuesday.

[ WFMJ ]