Ohio dad arrested for punishing 6-year-old girl by chasing her through neighborhood in clown mask
Spooky clown sightings have been reported in more than a dozen states with authorities forced to react to stories of clowns lurking outside schools or businesses, armed clowns driving around in a van or clowns prowling neighborhoods (AFP Photo/Marvin Recinos)

An Ohio father was arrested on Saturday for chasing his young daughter through their neighborhood while wearing a clown mask, which he said he was doing to punish her.

Columbus, OH's NBC 4 TV said that Vernon Barrett, Jr.'s six-year-old daughter ran into a neighbor's apartment in Boardman, OH shortly after 10 p.m., terrified and begging them to save her.

To escape her father, the 6-year-old had reportedly flagged down a stranger's car, rode the end of the street, then bolted into an unfamiliar apartment.

The girl told the family inside that a clown was chasing her, according to police, and the occupants looked outside and saw Bennett.

Homeowner Dion Santiago pulled a gun and went outside to confront him.

Santiago reportedly fired a single shot as a warning to stop Barrett and force him to comply until police arrived.

Police arrested Barrett at the scene and charged him with child endangerment and inducing panic. Santiago received a citation for operating a weapon while intoxicated.

Barrett told police that he put on the mask as a prank, but then admitted he was using it to discipline the girl. He said that the girl's mother is already incarcerated on child endangerment charges after she beat the child so violently that she broke four of the girl's ribs.