An Ohio man has been charged with child endangerment, and inducing panic after he chased his six-year-old daughter down the street while wearing a clown mask.
According to police, while running from her father, the girl apparently jumped into a stranger’s car before running into another stranger’s apartment, screaming that a clown was chasing her.
Vernon Barrett Jr. claimed he was disciplining his daughter for behavioral issues when questioned by police.
The girl’s mother is currently in prison for child endangerment after she broke four of her daughter’s ribs. Barrett claimed he frightened the girl as an alternative to spanking her, as her mother had.
In addition to Barrett’s charges, charges are being pressed against a neighbor who fired a gun into the ground during the incident. He has been charged with using a weapon while intoxicated. It is unknown at this time if he was aiming at the father.
This isn’t the first time clowns have been used to terrify young children. Last fall, people in clown masks were reported nationwide for luring small children into the woods. More than five different states reported incident’s of clowns menacing kids, though none were ever confirmed.
There have even been studies on why some people find clowns to be so scary. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman claims clowns are so terrifying because of the “primal dread that so many children experience in their presence.” And the theory checks out — after all, they’re the subject of some of a terrifying movies in film history, like ‘Poltergeist’ and Stephen King’s ‘IT.’