Clowns used to be confined to carnivals, circuses and kids’ parties. But now they’re running rampant for reasons still unknown.
Sightings of people donning clown masks and costumes date back to June of this year but have since picked up speed in the fall months.
These sightings have made their way to surrounding towns such as Heath and Lancaster, Ohio.
The past three weeks alone warranted six complaints in the city of Heath. According to Sergeant Ej Smith of the Heath Police department, complaints occurred on Sept. 26, 27, 28, 29 and 2 on the 30th.
The report from Sept. 27 came from a woman in Lancaster who said she saw someone dressed as a clown holding up a large kitchen knife. Police officers who responded talked with witnesses at the scene who said they saw two individuals dressed as clowns: one in a gold suit with a balloon and another in all black (USA Today).
While no development came from this incident, the calls on Sept. 29 led to three arrests.
According to police reports, a car with four people dressed as clowns parked in Heath High School made threats to stab students. No weapons were found in the car, but the individuals responsible were charged with inducing panic.
While seeing an individual lurking around in a clown mask is unnerving, there isn’t much police enforcement can do. “There’s a difference between someone being silly and someone making threats. Someone wearing a clown mask is annoying, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’s fine. What matters is if you’re making threats,” said Smart.
But why does this keep happening? Smart believes that it’s because of how much publicity these stunts are receiving. “There’s a lot of copycats looking for their five minutes of fame…it’s something to be involved in.”
Smart thinks it’s ultimately being blown out of proportion because a lot of these occurrences have no serious intent. Even if most of these individuals are non threatening.
A video claimed to be filmed on the Newark bike path circulated facebook and reached approximately 1,200,000 people. There’s been speculation about whether or not the video was fake. The original poster, Chase Prior, did not comment.
Regardless of the video’s authenticity, it sparked panic among those who use the bike path regularly. Helen Vaquero ‘17, expressed her feelings after seeing the video “I usually run on the bike path and after watching the video I felt a little hesitant to do so. Running helps to get away from stress of the fast paced world but these incidents make you think twice about it. It shouldn’t be that way.”
Smart hopes and believes the prank will die down. “What’ll happen is that it won’t be funny or scary anymore…With halloween around the corner, our biggest concern is children being scared,” he said
In the meantime, if you happen to come across someone dressed as a clown and feel threatened, Smart encourages you to call your local agency.