LAKEWOOD, N.Y. (WIVB) - A man dressed as the Joker from the Batman movies made everyone inside an Applebee's restaurant in Chautauqua County uneasy when he allegedly began harassing patrons.
Lakewood-Busti Police say 24-year-old Aaron Chase of Jamestown was drunk and harassing people Sunday night while dressed all in black with his face painted white, dark circles around his eyes, green hair, and a menacing red smile - just like the Joker from the Batman movies.
PHOTOS | Chase is apparently very interested in the comic book character recently portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. Chase's Facebook page has numerous images of the 24-year-old dressed up as the Joker
Jay and Alison Churchill eat at the Applebee's often.
"I'm just afraid," Jay said. "There are so many of these happening now."
Alison added, "Who knows where it would have gone from there? So it's good they responded and took it seriously."
Sgt. Paul Gustafson says they charged Chase with trespassing, after he refused to leave the bar while drunk and harassing patrons.
"Most of the customers within the establishment were visibly upset from the fact that he was acting the way he was and dressed the way he was as well," Sgt. Gustafson said.
Before going to Applebee's, Chase had been at the Good Times Saloon in the Town of Ellicott. Police there say they had to kick him out after he apparently made gun gestures toward the bartender.
Tim Ruch owns the bar, which is just up the road from Applebee's. He says Chase has come to his business dressed as the Joker at least three times in the last two weeks.
"People get a little uptight and nervous, especially the bartenders," Ruch said. "They don't know what to do. You don't see this every day."
After his arrest, Chase was taken to WCA Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Police are not taking any chances, especially after the recent mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, where the shooter walked into a crowded movie theater, dressed as the Joker, and opened fire.
Jay Churchill said, "He's obviously got some problems. I mean, I don't know if he was sick or just drunk, but I'm glad they took care of it the way they did."
Chase is due back in court later this week.
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