WINCHESTER, Va. - A man carrying a sword and dressed as the “The Joker” was arrested in Virginia Friday afternoon, police said.
According to Winchester police, several emergency calls were made at around 2 p.m. about a suspicious man seen wearing a black cape and armed with a sword walking along Papermill Road and South Pleasant Valley Road. Responding officers would arrest 31-year-old Jeremy Putman and charge him for wearing a mask in public.
Wearing a mask, hood or any other type of device that covers or hides a person’s face in public is a felony crime in Virginia and can result in punishment of up to five years in jail, police said according to Virginia Code 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.”
Police said they received several other similar reports over the past week, but do not believe there are any other suspects.
Putman is being held on $2,000 bond.