The strange clown threats spreading across the nation turned violent on Friday with a young male dressed as a clown attacking a woman in Ohio and a spate of other incidents popping up across dozens of states.
The latest attack has police and school officials across the nation on high edge with growing reports of clown-costumed people frightening or attacking people, including one murder in Pennsylvania.
What started in the late summer as a series of clown sightings in a mostly rural area of South Carolina has now spread to many other states, including some large cities, with some of them actually turning violent. In Reading, Pennsylvania, last week, a 16-year-old high school student was fatally stabbed by a person wearing a clown mask, the AP reported. Police arrested Avery Valentin-Bair on a second-degree murder charge for the attack.
The creepy clown sightings have turned violent again this week in Ohio with a young man in a clown mask choking a woman and then making a threat against high schools. Reading resident Kim Youngblood said the young man was able to sneak up and attack her.
“I thought it was just a person that came up behind and grabbed me around the neck, and it turned out to be a person dressing as a clown,” Youngblood told 911 dispatchers (via Cincinnati.com). “And the person was making threats against the Reading School District, and making threats against me telling me that he was going to kill me.”
Youngblood said the person ran away after an alarm went off in an apartment, but not before making another threat.
“He said that there were going to be teachers and students who were going to be sorry that they were ever born,” Youngblood said.
The threats led local officials to close some schools on Friday. Police arrested a juvenile in connection to the clown threat, Cincinnati.com reported.
“This suspect used the current ‘clown’ trend to further terrorize parents and students and has been charged with Making Terrorist Threats and Inducing Panic,” police said in a Facebook post.
Officials in Ohio have said that the clown threats spreading there appear to be the work of copycats seeking attention. On Friday, another student was arrested in a town north of Cincinnati for making a clown-related threat on social media.
“The social media message was a copycat of the clown threats that have been becoming more frequent in our area and around the country. At no time were students and staff in any danger,” Milford High School principal Josh Kauffman said in a statement posted on Facebook (via CBS News).
But Ohio is not the only place facing growing clown threats. Over the course of the week, there were dozens of sightings reported across several states with no apparent connection. While some of these could have been a hoax, others included real attacks or threats of violence.
There were several sightings in Long Island this week with a number of people calling 911 to report seeing people dressed as clowns jumping in front of cars, CBS New York reported.
The reason for all the clown sightings remains a mystery. While police in some areas have suggested that it is the work of copycats looking to terrorize people or seek attention, others believe it could be a a trend related to Hollywood’s love of creepy clowns.
Us Weekly offered a few possible explanations.
“One theory for the clown resurgence is that Halloween is coming up soon. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman makes the point that since the 1980s, clowns have made appearances in the months or weeks before the costume holiday. As Rolling Stone suggested, it may just be too many clown movies with a Poltergeist reboot last year and previews for an It remake that dropped in recent weeks.”
Whatever the cause, the creepy clown threats and sightings do not appear to be slowing down. There were a slate of new incidents reported in the past few days in upstate New York, Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia.
[Featured Image by James Kenney/AP Images]