Creepy clown sightings have escalated in the Carolinas in recent days, baffling police and leaving residents on edge. In the past month police have received more than a dozen reports from people claiming that clowns — some in masks and some in white face paint — were acting strangely in their area.
“The clowning around needs to stop,” Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said during a press briefing on Sept 1. “It’s illegal, it’s dangerous, it’s inappropriate, it’s creating community concern.” Miller warned that those involved in the clown incidents could be arrested.
Miller said the Greenville PD has “added patrols” to see if they can intercept the person(s) behind the incidents.
“What I can also say is that — for those of you who may be inclined to dress in clown outfits — there is a specific state law that prohibits that for anyone over the age of 16 and it’s not smart,” he said. “It could be dangerous for you, it could be dangerous for others. But it’s against the law, and we want to let you know that we will charge you. We really don’t want to but we will because you’re creating a disruption in our community, you’re creating fear and concern.”
But the clowning has continued with more sightings reported over the weekend and two more on Tuesday.
Via Heat Street:
The latest incident involving a clown allegedly occurred on Tuesday morning, when police say a man wearing a “scary clown mask” and “red curly wig” disappeared into the woods after being chased by another man wielding a machete in the Greensboro, North Carolina area.
A “local witness reported that a person wearing a scary clown mask, red curly wig, yellow dotted shirt, blue clown pants and clown shoes exited the woods,” behind an apartment complex, Greensboro police said in a statement.
“Upon seeing the clown, another witness — an adult male — ran after it yielding a machete. The clown ran back into the woods and disappeared from view.”
Officers searched the area for the dressed-up individual but were unable to find anyone matching that description.
Local police warned residents “although it is lawful to dress as a clown, given the heightened tensions about these entertainers, officials are discouraging ‘copycat’ behavior by individuals who may find it humorous to mimic suspicious behavior.”
A call came into the Fayetteville, N.C.,Police Department at around 10:00 Tuesday night with a complaint of a clown sighting in a wooded area in town. The police investigated but couldn’t find the culprit. “It’s unconfirmed. We can’t say if there was or was not a clown,” said Officer Shawn Strepay.
Tuesday’s sightings were just the latest in a string of creepy clown sightings that have been reported by alarmed residents in North and South Carolina in recent weeks.
In Winston-Salem, N.C., on Sunday two children reported that a clown tried to lure them into a wooded area “by offering them treats.” Another person reportedly saw a clown in the same city later that night. All three of the incidents reportedly occurred in very residential areas near parks.
In Greenville, S.C., on August 20, there were multiple reports of “a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing” trying to lure children in the woods” near an apartment complex.
An investigating deputy then spoke with another person who said a clown was also seen near a garbage dumpster. The person said the clown waved at her and she waved back, but the clown did not approach. There were also claims from some children that several clowns had been seen in the woods trying to persuade them to follow them with large amounts of money.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio, last week, a student reported being chased by a knife-wielding clown while walking to the bus stop.
According to WCMH-TV, a 14-year-old boy in Columbus was walking to the bus stop on his way to Columbus North International School at around 6:15 a.m., when a man dressed in all black and wearing a clown mask chased him down the street with a knife.
Some people speculate that hoaxers are perpetrating the clown crimes, while others say the incidents could be part of an elaborate publicity stunt to promote some upcoming clown movies.
According to PEOPLE magazine, it could be “morbid fans trying to promote the 2017 movie release of Stephen King’s It, about an evil clown known as Pennywise that terrorized a group of young boys.”
One local TV station wondered if Rob Zombie’s upcoming film, about a group of kidnapped carnival workers, might be involved in guerrilla marketing – but the distributor said they were not.
“If this is a hoax or publicity stunt, it is not funny,” a Greensboro police spokeswoman told PEOPLE. “It is alarming to the public and a drain on police resources. We just don’t know at this point, because we haven’t had the chance to interview any clowns.”