Father accused of chasing daughter with clown mask pleads not guilty

BOARDMAN — A father facing charges for allegedly wearing a clown mask and chasing his 6-year-old child has pleaded not guilty.

Vernon Barrett Jr.’s attorney filed a written not guilty plea for his client in court Tuesday.

Barrett was arrested this weekend after police say he wore an orange and tan clown mask and chased his daughter from their apartment on Aravesta Avenue to an apartment on Lemans Drive on Saturday evening.

Barrett Jr. told Fox 8 by phone Monday morning that he loves his daughter and did not want to hurt her.

He told police he was trying to discipline the girl. He said the girl’s mother is in prison for physically hurting her.

Barrett Jr. was charged with child endangerment and inducing panic.

A frantic woman called 911 saying the little girl was trying to get in her car, saying she was scared that a clown was chasing her. The woman told 911 she saw the man.

The girl than ran into a nearby apartment, a man inside the apartment , Dion Santiago, is alleged to have fired a shot near Barrett, and has been charged with using weapons while intoxicated. Santiago will appear in court Thursday.

No one was injured.

Santiago told Fox 8 he was not intoxicated. He was working Monday and unable to speak to us camera but says he plans to fight the charges.

Boardman Sgt. Charles Hillman says the case is very unusual.

More coverage here.