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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Two teens arrested for beating homeless people are members of an emerging street gang known for painting their faces like clowns, say police.
Jonathan Appelt and Robert Griffin told officers they were “juggalos” when they were arrested for three violent attacks on the homeless, said Lt. Tim Brewer
Juggalos have their roots in a rap group called the Insane Clown Posse. They paint their faces black and white, like ICP members, and sometimes wear clothing or have tattoos of the Hatchetman, an ICP logo.
Appelt had a hatchet similar to one carried by the Hatchetman when he was arrested, said Brewer.
Brewer said the suspects were known to paint their faces black and white, although they were not painted when they allegedly attacked homeless men in October and twice in January.
Corvalls Police Capt. John Sassman classifed Appelt and Griffin as the gang’s ringleaders. He estimated the Corvallis group had anywhere from two to 10 people in it.
“It is kind of disturbing to have an emerging group that is involved in criminal activity,” said Brewer.
The group popped up on the police department’s radar last summer when a young man snatched a woman’s purse in downtown. She described the suspect as a young man with his face painted black and white.
While the majority of ICP fans, who call themselves juggalos, are in gangs, some criminal sects have formed.
Corvallis police believe Appelt and Griffin are involved in one of those sects.
“I think any time you have a group of individuals that have a common ideology or intent to commit crimes and identify themselves with a certain type of appearance or dress or following,” said Lt. Brewe, “and they’re also committing crimes such as these, I do believe that makes them a criminal gang. Not to say that everyone juggalo is a gang.”
On Monday, Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christian Stringer to dismiss one count of robbery in the second degree and one count of intimidation in the second degree against each suspect.
According to court documents, “the alleged victim in counts 1 & 2 admittedly lied about the circumstances of the assault, robbery and intimidation. While the police were learning of this new information, Defendant Robert Griffin asked to contact police officers from the jail and subsequently told the police that he had given a false confession relating to that incident.”
A grand jury is deciding whether or not to charge Appelt and Griffin with other counts.
The suspects were also arrested in December in connection with the theft of $4,000 worth of equipment belonging to the Oregon State University crew team facility.
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