- Photo via Facebook
As Halloween approaches it appears reports of menacing clowns terrorizing citizens in the US have reached epic proportions.
Reports of clown sightings across the country, now in the dozens, have continued unabated since clowns were first spotted in Greenville, South Carolina, in August. That’s where clowns apparently tried to lure children into the woods, according to the police.
Since then, creepy clowns have been reported roaming around more than 20 states, according to BuzzFeed News.
Most of the scary encounters involving bozos have been either harmless or unfounded, but one incident involving a dispute over a clown mask led to the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old, the Associated Press reported.
Almost 30 people have been arrested in clown-related crimes, BuzzFeed News said, including false reports of clown sightings. Police officers have also arrested people on charges of harassment and making “terroristic threats.”
The problem has been exacerbated by a series of false reports that have spread on social media, some of which turned out to be pranks or hoaxes. As is the case with popular crimes, media attention to the clown sightings may have led to copycat occurrences.
On Monday, Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, was put under lockdown and students sheltered in place after a report of an armed clown on campus. Officials later concluded the unsubstantiated report originally came from a Twitter account that posts user-submitted reports of clown sightings that are unverified.
Though police departments have been taking the claims seriously to keep residents safe, they are growing impatient with pranksters who are taking advantage of the hysteria to scare the unsuspecting public.
“This is like pulling a fire alarm on a wide scale,” Jim Chiavelli, a Merrimack College spokesman, told the Boston Herald. “It’s really irresponsible. It’s disruptive to hundreds of lives and puts everyone in a dangerous situation.”
The creepy-clown problem has even caught the attention of federal authorities when the issue was brought up during a White House news conference.
“Obviously, this is a situation that law enforcement is taking quite seriously,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told a reporter when asked whether President Barack Obama had been briefed on the clown problem.
Pennsylvania State University students took matters into their own hands on Tuesday night when hundreds gathered to go “clown hunting,” even though the Pennsylvania police had insisted there were no credible reports of clowns on campus.
3 Clowns spotted at PSU allegedly. So naturally 6,000 kids mob the streets to hunt it down. I love Penn State pic.twitter.com/P4xYx0nVhs
— Addison Carson (@AddiCarson) October 4, 2016
Professionals who dress up as clowns for a living have been caught in the middle as they appear to be taking the brunt of public frustration.
Sara Moore, the director of the Clown Conservatory, a school for clowns in San Francisco, told The Oregonian that the negative media coverage on clowns was tarnishing the image of the comedic performers.
“The people perpetuating this are sick individuals in masks who are playing off a spate of clown images being used for horror purposes,” Moore said.
The uproar over clowns has spurred a Clown Lives Matter march scheduled for October 15 in Tucson, Arizona, that aims to show “clowns are not psycho killers.”
With a few weeks left until Halloween, more clown sightings are possible.