Thanks to the success of the It reboot, clowns have never been more in than they are right now. If you have a phobia of those red-nosed monsters, it's going to be a bad time for you, especially if people start trying to bring scary clowns to life in their own homes.
That's exactly what one father from Youngstown, Ohio, did over the weekend, and it almost ended with him getting shot after his bizarre actions took an even more bizarre turn. Vernon Barrett Jr., a 25-year-old father to a 6-year-old daughter, thought of a "unique" way to punish his child. Barrett Jr. reportedly put on a clown mask outside of his apartment and began chasing her around the complex where they live.
Barrett Jr.'s daughter, unaware of who was behind the clown mask, fled to a nearby stranger's car and expressed her fear to the woman inside. Spooked by the situation, the woman called 911, unsure of what else she was supposed to do. "I can tell you it scared the bejeezus out of me," the woman told the Washington Post.
Barrett Jr.'s daughter continued running, and she eventually ended up in the apartment of a neighbor, Dion Santiago. After hearing the same frightened outburst from Barrett Jr.'s daughter, Santiago spotted the clown outside of the building and proceeded to pull out a gun and fire a shot out of his apartment window. Much to no one's surprise, this didn't exactly de-escalate the situation, and it resulted in a heated argument between Santiago and Barrett Jr.
For their roles in the fracas, both Santiago (using weapons while intoxicated) and Barrett Jr. (child endangerment and inducing panic) were charged with crimes, and they are now scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. Asked for justification for the clown stunt, Barrett Jr. framed it as the only option available to him at the moment because of difficult circumstances in the child's life. Her mother was reportedly sent to prison for child endangerment after she broke the young girl's ribs by stepping on her, and Barrett Jr. claims this has presented him with disciplinary challenges.
"Barrett said due to this he cannot discipline his daughter and reported they have been having behavior problems with J.B. at school and home," a police report said. "Barrett said that he decided to use the clown mask into scaring her to behave."
That seems like a bad excuse for resorting to scare tactics because there's a pretty sizable gray area between injuring your children and not being able to discipline them at all. And as a psychologist explained to the Post, there are very good reasons to not do what Barrett did, because children need to feel safe in their home environment around their immediate family.
"A 6-year-old’s ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is a little shaky," Eileen Kennedy-Moore said. "Children learn not through suffering but by doing it right...In general, we want to be a source of safety rather than fear for our kids."
So put the clown mask back into storage and try, you know, actually talking to your child. Make them eat a few extra brussel sprouts or something! Whatever you do, do not make the mistake this guy did.