As creepy clown sightings continue to freak out residents of Greenville, South Carolina, and other communities, one emerging theory is that the clown encounters are part of a publicity stunt for an upcoming horror movie.
While this seems unlikely — the likelihood of lawsuits filed by parents of traumatized kids pretty much rules this out.
However, according to a report by Reuters, that theory is being considered.
The theory links the clown sightings with a preview of the horror film, 31, by director Rob Zombie, which features a gang of sadistic clowns. The preview was shown at a theater in Greenville on Thursday.
Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said investigators don’t know if the sightings are connected with the movie.
— SBS News (@SBSNews) September 4, 2016
Miller warns that if someone is doing this for “kicks,” they should know that South Carolina law prohibits anyone over age 18 from dressing up as a clown, adding that a city ordinance related to “molesting or disturbing the public” could also lead to their arrest.
Over the past two weeks, children and adults alike have reported seeing clowns or people dressed up like clowns, enticing children to enter the woods with promises of candy or money.
At least eight such occurrences have been reported in Greenville.
Other sightings have been reported in a neighboring county. A woman in Spartanburg reported seeing a person dressed as a clown in her backyard last week.
But there have been others.
According to Fox 8, a motorist in Greenville called 911 last week to report a figure standing the side of the road wearing a “clown mask” and a clear rain poncho before disappearing into the woods, according to master deputy Ryan Flood of the Greenville County sheriff’s office.
“This is something we are taking very seriously, especially because of the allegations of the people dressed at clowns attempting to lure children into the woods.”
— Canberra Times (@canberratimes) September 4, 2016
Earlier in the week, a woman claimed she saw “a middle-aged man with white facial makeup and flaming red hair standing silently outside a laundromat.”
At an apartment complex where flyers were distributed, warning parents of the clown sightings, Donna Arnold said she called the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office to come out to the complex after her son and others reported seeing clowns in the area.
“I thought my child was seeing things. And then the next day I had about 30 kids come up to me and say, ‘Did you see the clown in the woods?'”
These are just a few of the many reports flooding 911 centers.
Officer Gilberto Franco with the Greenville Police Department told Fox 8 said a lack of consistency in the descriptions of the clowns is hindering their investigation. Franco said that of the reports his agency is investigating, not enough information was received about the costumes, hair colors, and whether or not the suspects had on masks or painted faces.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) September 1, 2016
While police have been unable to confirm any of the reports, they are urging parents to be cautious.
Bruce Wilson, a community activist and founder of Fighting Injustice Together, is calling for the clown terror to stop “before someone gets hurt.”
“We plan to publicly ask whoever is behind this senseless action of scaring child to stop before someone gets hurt,” Wilson stated. “We will also be asking law enforcement, both Greenville city police and Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, to increase patrols in these neighborhoods and to ensure that officers do not simply sit in patrol cars but actually walking the perimeter of these apartment complexes.”
[Image via Shutterstock]