With those pop-up Halloween stores appearing in run-down strip centers across the land and the remake of Stephen King’s ‘It’ packing them into theaters, the coulrophobics among us are no doubt having a hard time these days. So for all of you yuk-meisters who think it’s the height of fun to terrorize people while wearing a Pennywise mask, it’s good to know when to say when.

At about 10 p.m. local time on Saturday, 25-year-old Vernon Barrett was wearing a clown mask and chasing his 6-year-old daughter outside their apartment in Boardman, Ohio, according to Youngstown’s WKBN-TV.

According to witnesses, the girl, obviously terrified, was screaming and ran into the unlocked apartment of neighbor Dion Santiago, 48.

According to wfmj.com . . .

…Santiago, who lives in the apartment, told police that when the girl ran in, he turned off the lights, looked out the apartment window and saw a man dressed in a clown mask on the lawn outside.

That probably didn’t look creepy at all.

Santiago decided it he’d seen enough clowning around and went full Joe Biden.

According to the report, Santiago told officers that he grabbed his firearm and fired one gunshot out of the window. The report goes on to say that Santiago later told officers that he had not pointed the gun at the man in the mask, or into the air.

Police say that they smelled alcohol on Santiago, who reportedly admitted to officers that he was drinking a few beers while watching a fight on TV when the girl came into his apartment.

If, like the former veep, you were unaware, warning shots are illegal in many, if not most jurisdictions. So this all ended pretty much as you’d expect, though the local 5-0 didn’t charge him with discharging a firearm in the city limits.

Barrett (above left) was arrested for child endangering and inducing panic. Meanwhile, officers also arrested Santiago (above right) for one charge of operating a firearm while intoxicated.

No word yet as to the state of the terrified 6-year-old little girl. Or who’s going to pay for the therapy she’ll likely need in the years ahead.

53 Responses to Pro Tip: Don’t Fire Warning Shots

    • In that picture. Is that John Vernon pretending to be gabby giffords?

      I thought I’d seen all the terrible horror movies out there. Apparently not.

  1. “At about 10 p.m. local time on Saturday, 25-year-old Vernon Barrett was wearing a clown mask and chasing his 6-year-old daughter outside their apartment in Boardman, Ohio… Barrett was arrested for child endangering and inducing panic. “

    WTAF? Here’s a guy actually spending time with his kid(s), playing a game with them, and they arrest him for it? You can debate whether or not this was “the best” game ever but the cops in this situation really went full retard.

    This time of year scaring kids who then run around screaming their heads off (usually hopped up on massive doses of sugar) is… the point of the season… right? When I was a kid my dad did stuff like this all the time. It’s called parent-child bonding. It’s fun.

    [Note: I love Halloween and I scare the living crap out of both parents and kids when handing out candy.]

    • It wasn’t bonding time – it was, according to several accounts I’ve read, an attempt to “discipline” the girl. The father chose this method, according to his statements, because when the “mom” had previously disciplined the girl it resulted in several broken ribs and “mom” being sent to jail. “Dad” was trying to avoid physical harm and opted for psychological. The girl was genuinely terrified and wouldn’t approach “dad” even after his mask was removed.

      • If that’s the case then I would agree that it’s poor parenting. I’d still argue it falls well short of what should be an arrestable offense.

        At this point you can’t discipline a kid at all. A few years back some lady when to prison in TX for spanking her kid because her “beating” left a handprint on the kid’s rear for more than like 20 minutes. Shit, the one time my dad hit me he did it with a belt and I could barely sit down for a couple DAYS. After that I knew to listen.

        • “Sec. 9.61. PARENT-CHILD. (a) The use of force, but not deadly force, against a child younger than 18 years is justified:
          (1) if the actor is the child’s parent or stepparent or is acting in loco parentis to the child; and
          (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.”

          Pro-tip: “reasonably believes” means what the police, prosecutor, and ultimately either a judge or jury (your choice) believes is reasonable.

    • As a former 6 year old, being chased by any clown is scary. Actually being chased by anyone with a mask is scary. (N.B. the antifa group.) There’s lots of other ways to get the message across. Our parents did it, no?

  2. Dial 911, aim the gun at the clown and make him get on the ground. I would have protected that little girl with my life. Under the influence or not, that clown was not going to approach me or those under my care.

    • The little girl ran into Santiago’s apartment. The thing for him to do was lock the door, call 911 and have his gun ready in case the clown broke in before the police arrived. Since it was just a game she and her father were playing, it wouldn’t have come to that.

      • Unless Daddy Dearest (who already seems a few buttons short of a full suit) decided that pounding down the door to get his little girl back was appropriate. Arguably that would could have ended worse … although for that little girl, perhaps (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) the foster system might be the least-bad alternative.

  3. officers also arrested Santiago (above right) for one charge of operating a firearm while intoxicated.

    He chose to become intoxicated in the privacy of his own home, and couldn’t choose to become instantly untoxic when a little girl barged into his home and demanded protection from a crazy man in a clown suit. Barring evidence of any actual endangerment, I’m hoping the prosecuting attorney offers him a deal of ‘pay us $50 for court costs and we’ll dismiss the charge without prejudice, but if you screw up bad enough to get arrested again in the next 12 months we’re reviving the charge’.

    I tend to think they overcharged the father too.

    • You don’t even have to fire a gun to receive the same treatment as Mr Santiago. In many jurisdictions, Wisconsin among them, if you are in even “constructive possession” of a loaded firearm and the cops smell alcohol on your breath, you could be subject to arrest. “Constructive possession” might mean you have the gun laying in view in your house, or maybe you are at a friends house having a few beers when the cops arrive to inquire about a “barking dog” and they see a shotgun propped up in the corner. In WI it is a class A misdemeanor – $10K fine plus jail time.

      It is not just going to a bar while carrying, this is in your own HOME! You don’t have to be legally drunk – just “intoxicated”.

      • We have the same basic rule in Colorado though you can carry in a bar and drink while doing so provided you don’t become legally intoxicated.

        Essentially after 0.08BAC in Colorado it’s a felony to possess a firearm under any circumstances. That includes sitting in your home knocking back a few when Mr. Home Invader comes a knocking.

        Fortunately the law is nearly never applied that way unless you take a serious attitude with the cops or do something really dumb that is, in and of itself, a criminal offense (like fire a warning shot).

        Still, I agree, it’s stupid and those laws should be rewritten or simple stricken from the books.

        • Nice thing though about CO law is that they have also essentially elmnated open container laws. If the wife is drinking in the car, fine, just as long as you are behind the wheel and haven’t been. What is important is the BAC of the driver (and anyone with a firearm).

        • Uhh, Bruce? You may want to discuss your proposed action with an attorney. Ask him about CRS 42-4-1305. Don’t listen to me when I tell you you’re wrong.

          Just don’t go around telling other people wrong advice.

  4. A sure way to test your resistance to 9mm bullets is to approach me and mine on the street dressed as one of these creepy clowns…

    For 12 gauge 00 buckshot applications, replace “on the street” with “at my house.”

  5. The November/December issue of Combat Handguns carries a feature by Massad Ayoob concerning warning shots. He identifies assumptions and hopes about warning shots that may not be fully considered by a lot of gun owners. Ayoob gives tactical (gunfighting) considerations as well as general thoughts about warnings. The feature is two pages in the magazine, and worth the read. Unfortunately, the article is not yet retrievable on the internet. However, the magazine is a good one, with the least cheerleading for guns and equipment. I especially like the “Tale of the Tape” series comparing two similar, and well known handguns against each other.

  6. Mr. Santiago shouldn’t have said anything about the shooting to the police. Hasn’t he even seen a cop/court show?

  7. There’s a line between fun and being a jack@ss. The dad apparently couldn’t distinguish the two.

    I truly feel sad for Mr. Santiago. Just chillin’, minding his own business…

  8. Again with the warning shots. If the threat is sufficient for deadly force, then neutralize the threat. Don’t hope to scare the threat away with a big noise. As pointed out many times on this blog, even shouting a warning can be twisted to prove you intended to shoot/kill the recipient of your pointed disapproval of pending activity.

    • Exactly! Once you’ve decided that your life is in danger, or you are in fear of great bodily harm to the point of brandishing your firearm, there is only one response to be taken. Two center mass, then one to the head. Warning shots are a waste of ammo, and more dangerous to the innocent than they are of any help with your life and limb situation.

      • There is a point between deadly force and threat of force where brandishing is legal but shooting isn’t.

        (Sec. 9.04. THREATS AS JUSTIFIABLE FORCE. The threat of force is justified when the use of force is justified by this chapter. For purposes of this section, a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force). Texas Penal Code.

        I’d be comfortable making the argument in court that warning shots are protected by this section. I would not be comfortable personally relying on that argument in court.

        This isn’t a comment on the wisdom of warning shots.

        • Your law is open for a bad interpretation, I agree. My locality makes it clear that producing a weapon for anything other than immediate defense of an imminent threat is “brandishing”, as in making another person fearful, or feel in any way threatened by the presentation of the weapon. Locals determined that “printing” of a concealed firearm that causes fear in another is also “brandishing”. Don’t like it, but the law is clear: carry or produce a weapon at your peril. It is so bad, there has been one case (acquittal) where a self-defender shot an attacker, but a bystander felt “threatened” by the display of the pistol, and the subsequent firing of a single shot. Reportedly, the “bystander” feared the self-defender would turn his weapon on anyone in proximity because the defender would see everyone near the attacker as an accomplice and subject to deadly force.

          I like my spiffy Neos .22, but still uncomfortable about carrying outside the home.

        • Which one is the bad interpretation? That warning shots are not covered by this defense or that they are? Brandishing a firearm is explicitly covered by this statute (as justified in certain situations).

        • “Which one is the bad interpretation?”

          That firing the warning shot was not justified, thus “brandishing” and other bad outcomes. I.E. you can try to defend the warning shot, but there is no guarantee the defense will be effective. In my jurisdiction, discharging a firearm in public (a place not designated for training or sport) is a crime. The only possible mitigation is “affirmative defense”, and that is also problematic. The law here makes it quite clear one wants to avoid using a firearm for any purpose outside training (at a certified range) or sport (hunting), unless the alternative is to allow a deadly attack to proceed (as in there was/is no other choice).

          In Texas you might get away with a warning shot. In mine, never.

  9. I once read a book titled “Three Felonies a Day”.

    That tomb spelled out in excruciating detail how complex and punitive the laws had become to the point that the average citizen couldn’t help but misunderstand what’s legal and not and, as a consequence, committed, on average, 3 felonies a day just going about his business.

    I live in Texas and have a concealed carry license. I never, ever heard of the crimes associated with chasing your own child around while dressed as a clown. It’s crazy.

    But I am aware of the law prohibiting the handling of a firearm while intoxicated.

    • “I never, ever heard of the crimes associated with chasing your own child around while dressed as a clown.”

      Child abuse can be physical, sexual, neglect, and as exemplified here, psychological/emotional. This child was previously physically abused by “mom.” The “father’s” intentional terrorizing (admitted to by his own words) of this young child is clearly a continuation of an abusive situation – and it’s criminal.

    • Hmmm, I’m thinking Zombie Rules apply.
      Anything that gets the brain should take out a klown/clown also.
      (.375 H&H definitely qualifies. )
      The question after that is how much of a mess do you want to make?

      What about a zombie grizzly clown??

    • Swap “round” with “method”, and replace .375HH with “Fire”.

      Unless it’s zombie clowns, which just turns them into squeaky corpsetorches.

      Or Pennywise; good luck with…. whatever. Remember though, fighting eldritch malevolence ain’t like in the movies. Maybe offer to be friends first, or maybe they just want to bitch about Spookbook drama or being left out of Tobin’s Spirit Guide, Eleventeenth Edition.

    • No, you fire one of those guns that sticks out a flag that says “BANG!” and then you give them a cigar that’s got a stick of dynamite in it!

  10. Fired warning shots before. Worked like a charm. Some punks had cut my fence and were stealing trees. Called cops about the intruders, who are probably still running, and the RO told me he would have just shot them, but had no problem with warning shots. This was done on a large acreage property, not some city apartment, but blasting a few rds and watching the punks scatter was alot easier than having bodies lying around.

    Every situation is different, which is why these “expert” blanket opinion pieces on here are often just pieces of s*it.

    • Stealing trees? Who the fuck steals a tree? A bunch of hipster green peace types who thought they were imprisoned? Anyway, glad you were able to defend your property.

      • One or two trees maybe, but someone here stole maybe 160 in one night, maybe a month ago, though how they didn’t hear the chainsaws and trucks is beyond me. Enough that it was clearly grand larceny. Actually, friend of mine is trying to remove maybe a dozen trees right now, that fell down after the increased runoff due to a fire a couple years ago, and their value is well into the grand larceny realm. Not hard, really, when you have 100 ft trees. First case was in an area that was also threatened by fire, and that was how it was apparently sold to the church group that apparently participated in the tree heist.

  11. Why not just go outside and ask the clown what’s the heck is going on?
    I mean there are very few killer clowns but how many do you run into a day?
    It is obvious if the clown is still standing outside it is not what Hollywood would have you believe.
    Dang if Common sense hasn’t left the building these days.

  12. Instead of telling the cops you fired a warning shot tell them you missed, dont miss, or lock your doors so neighbor kids dont walk into your house that little girl could have really ruined that fellow life just saying he touched her in the wrong place. I had a guy try to sue me a few years ago when i pulled him out of a burning car wreck, the guy ended up paralyzed and blamed me for pulling too hard to get him out. I learned my lesson about being a good Samaritan fuckers can now burn as i drive by all because one asshole figured a lawyer couldnt get him anything for a single car crash that was his own doing so he layed blame on the one other person.

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