A photographer in a California town taking a page from the Stephen King novel and movie It inadvertently started a terror trend throughout two southern California towns.
It started when a husband and wife began a photography project, but copy-cat clowns have begun popping up, and headlines began dropping on social media, terrifying residents who read things like “Murderous Death-Clowns Stalk Southern California,” Fox 2 News reports.
Authorities have gotten involved; the Kern County Sheriff’s Department says they’re getting all kinds of reports of clowns.
“I believe right now it’s going to be juvenile antics, but I haven’t seen anything else come through,” Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Ian Chandler said.
On the upside, officials say there have been no reports of violent crimes committed by clowns, but they note that they will investigate any criminal activity reported and, unfortunately, expect an increase in calls as we near Halloween.
In Stephen King’s It, released in 1986, seven children are terrorized by an entity that preys on them by disguising itself as their worst fears. While the being is able to change forms, “It” often appears as a deranged clown named Pennywise. Tim Curry plays the role of Pennywise in the film.
If you or someone you know has coulrophobia, or even an aversion to clowns, Jezebel suggests that you might want to stay off the streets. You may also want to share this story with them. Or not.
Refinery 29 likens the situation to a real-life American Horror Story: Freak Show.
A report last week from The Inquisitr placed the first incident — the innocent photo project — as happening on October 1. But just five days later, it wasn’t just clowns on the streets, it was community members hoping to get a glimpse of a clown.
Resident Anthony Garza is quoted as saying, “I just seen him about three times already. But yeah — he’s creepy.”
Clowns quickly moved from the streets to online as well, with dozens of photos of sightings being uploaded to “Wasco clown” social media sites. None of these photos are associated with the original photography project, however, and more than one photo from the original project has gone viral.
Tonight, at least one clown is reportedly in custody, according to the Los Angeles Times. The teen, donning clown attire, chased another member of the community. Though no weapon was involved, one of the people involved was “visibly shaken.”
The clown was arrested on suspicion of annoying a minor.