Creepy clowns cause sheriff to consult with FBI and Homeland Security

There's no end in sight for creepy clown reports thanks to social media hysteria. Dress like a clown, and you might be arrested and charged with 'inducing panic and terroristic threatening.'

Creepy clowns cause sheriff to consult with FBI and Homeland Security
Credit: Circe Denyer

If you are going to be dressing up in a costume for Halloween, you might want to avoid dressing like a creepy clown, considering the sinister clown hysteria sweeping the nation. You don’t want to wear a clown costume in Kentucky where a sheriff contacted the FBI and Homeland Security over the “creepy clown” threat. In fact, in Gallatin County, Kentucky, the sheriff warned that people behind “clown threats” might face charges of “inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”

Pennywise from Stephen King’s It really ruined clowns for a lot of people, changing their opinion of clowns from funny or cute to scary and creepy as can be. When the evil clown craze first started cranking up, some people suggested the clown sightings were pranks tied to some sort of promotion for the upcoming film It. Others suggested the clown sightings were inspired by Rob Zombie’s film 31, which includes kidnapped hostages trying to survive a violent game against a gang of sadistic clowns.

Reports of seeing menacing clowns spread fast through social media and often end up on the news. It seems to have started in August in Greenville, South Carolina, where clowns allegedly were trying to lure kids into the woods. From there, it ballooned into reports of people in clown costumes lurking in parks, assaulting people, chasing people and even threatening to kill people.

Often, the creepy clown sightings are just pranks, yet clowns have become such a threat that police have reverted to the terrorist threat motto of “if you see something, say something.”

Yesterday, after Gallatin County Kentucky Schools reportedly received a clown-related “vague threat of violence”—two “clowns” had threatened to shoot high school students—school attendance dropped to 48 percent.

Gallatin County Sheriff on clown threat Gallatin County Sheriff Department

Gallatin County Sheriff Josh Neale told people to forward threatening messages from clowns to the police, who were “aggressively looking into each and every message.” Neale said he was consulting with the FBI and Homeland Security over the clown threats. He added, “The person or people making the ‘clown threats’ could face local charges of inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”

Other police have also addressed the clown threat after it was going viral in social media. Wearing a “full clown costume” in public got one man arrested in Kentucky. He was charged with “wearing a mask in a public place and disorderly conduct.” He’s not the only “clown” who has been arrested.

Kentucky’s Barbourville Police warned that dressing like a clown “can create a dangerous situation.” While “approaching people in a threatening manner” is illegal, so too is “assaulting, shooting, attacking or otherwise injuring someone simple because they are wearing a costume.”

A mother in Evansville, Indiana, went a bit ballistic on Facebook after reports of clown sightings and her kids allegedly were threatened by clowns. The entire episode was spread over a couple days. It sparked lots of cursing comments, as she posted screenshots of clowns making threats and clown clone accounts. Facebook reportedly took the accounts down, and Evansville Police were allegedly investigating. According to Evansville Watch, police have responded to several reports of “clowns chasing people” or “waving a knife around.”

The radio station WKDQ did a reverse image search and determined the photos of clowns in Evansville were actually photos of clowns first reported to be seen and freaking people out in Wasco, California, back in 2014. WKDQ also found a recent video warning that “creepy clowns may be planning Purge on Halloween night.”

Oh man, face palm. Seriously? Please. Now, clown complaints have referenced at least three horror flicks. The clown threat is getting crazy, and people spreading the fear on Facebook and other social networks are not helping.

Then again, not all the clown complaints reports have been bull. Megan Buell, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said, “A teenager in Pennsylvania was fatally stabbed Sunday in an incident involving a person wearing a clown mask.”

Clown threats in multiple states

Besides the clown threat reports in Kentucky and Indiana, so far, evil clowns—which were first spotted in the southern U.S. states and have cause school lockdowns—have reportedly been seen South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, York College and other locations in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, and New Jersey. At the rate of discovery, there may possibly be other “killer clown” reports from more states.

It is important to note that although some people dressed as clowns have been arrested, and some states have regarded the threat as so credible as to put schools on lockdowns, other creepy clowns reportedly doing scary things have been proven false, a case of misunderstanding, or hoaxes. The majority of clown complaints are unsubstantiated, but that doesn't stop them from spreading in social media and then being picked up by local TV news stations.

Some people believe the clown craze started after a viral campaign for Zombie’s horror flick 31; others tried to capitalize on the creepy clown scare with their own marketing ploy for a different horror film, and some creepy clowns may be copycats wanting attention—pranksters.

For sickos trying to scare people, you might think twice because the panic you cause may get your arrested.

creepy evil clown Klown1

While discussing the clown threat, Lt. Bill Miller, a public information officer with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, told Live Science, “We don't know if they're threats or hoaxes, but they're causing a lot of public concern, and we have an obligation to make sure that we address that and give the public the best information we have.”

call 9-1-1 if you spot a clown Tennessee Highway Patrol

Meanwhile, real clowns are ticked, but at least one acknowledged that the public’s perception of clowns has been seriously tainted since King’s 1986 novel It debuted as TV miniseries in 1990.

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