Around 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 24, 2017, the Winchester Emergency Communications Center received several calls regarding a suspicious male dressed as “The Joker”. The male, who was wearing a black cape and carrying a sword, was spotted walking along Papermill Road and South Pleasant Valley Road. Officers with the Winchester Police Department arrested the man on the 2600 block of South Pleasant Valley Road.
Jeremy Putman, 31, is charged with wearing a mask in public and is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center under a $2,000 secured bond. The charge is a Class 6 Felony and is punishable with up to five years in jail. Police have received several similar reports over the last week. Officers do not believe there are additional suspects, but want to remind the community of the seriousness of the crime.
According to VirginiaCode 18.2-422: “It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood, or other device, whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered, so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth, without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment, or other activities, and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood, or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath, and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device, and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary, and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency, where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.”