Man in clown mask chases daughter into armed stranger’s apartment

An Ohio dad’s apparent effort to “scare” his 6-year-old daughter with a clown mask went awry this weekend after he chased the girl into a stranger’s apartment, prompting the man to open fire in the direction of her father outside in an attempt to protect her.

Boardman Township, Ohio police responded to the scene at just after 10 p.m. on Saturday, where they found Vernon Barrett Jr., 25, standing outside of 48-year-old Dion Santiago’s home, according to a police report.

Barrett, the girl’s father, had been struggling to discipline his daughter after her mother was sentenced to four years in prison for child endangering after she had broken “several of [the 6-year-old’s] ribs and stepped on her,” according to the police report.

Barrett, the police report states, told officials that he “decided to use the clown mask into scaring her to behave” and that this was simply a “prank” that started from their apartment.

But Santiago’s 22-year-old son, Dion Santiago Jr., told ABC News the girl seemed to be in dire need of help.

“We absolutely were protecting her,” Dion Santiago Jr. said. “She fell into our laps and was running for her life. It was completely unexpected but what else were we to do?”

While fleeing her father, Barrett’s daughter first jumped into a female driver’s car, “screaming she was being chased by a clown,” the police report states. Barrett, wearing the clown mask, then allegedly pulled his daughter out of the car, but she managed to break free and ran toward Santiago’s apartment. Meanwhile, the woman called 911.

The girl opened Santiago’s “unlocked door” and asked Santiago and his family “if she could stay with them because a clown was chasing her,” according to the police report.

Santiago turned off the lights of the home and “looked out his apartment window and observed Barrett standing outside of the building with a clown mask on,” the police report states. Santiago, who later admitted to police that “he had a few beers” while watching TV, then “grabbed his firearm and fired a shot out of his window,” the police report states.

Boardman Township Police
Dion Santiago of Boardman, Ohio, is pictured in an undated booking photo.

Santiago later told police that “he was frightened” by the 6-year-old girl entering his home “without permission,” adding that clowns have been chronicled on the news as “chasing people” and that he was trying to protect his son, daughter and his son’s girlfriend, who were in the apartment with…

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