The clown threats that started late this summer have spread from one rural part of South Carolina to dozens of major American cities and now to college campuses — but the students at Penn State were ready to fight back.
After several weeks of creepy clown sightings and vague threats across the country, the latest wave of the makeup-wearing pranksters have taken their aim at college campuses. There were rumors of clowns seen around the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut, though police there didn’t confirm any sightings.
At Penn State, it was a different story. After reports spread across campus that a clown was spotted, more than 1,000 students took to the streets in an impromptu clown hunt.
As Time noted, it even turned into a school rally of sorts.
“Footage on social media shows students running together in the streets. Some students wrote on Twitter that the group was ‘rioting’ and chanting, ‘We are Penn State!’
“‘Some people run away from clowns, Penn State runs towards them,’ one witness tweeted.”
Other colleges apparently plan to join in on the fun, including the University of Florida where a clown hunt was planned for Tuesday night.
The clown threats to college campuses come after what appeared to be a strange nationwide prank turned very serious. These clown sightings started over the summer in a small, rural part of South Carolina with a few people reporting costumed people trying to lure kids into the woods. Police dismissed some of the incidents as hoaxes, but others were confirmed to be real.
Within a week, the sightings spread to North Carolina and then exploded from there, with clown sightings and threats popping up in dozens of states.
Some of the incidents even involved violence. In Reading, Pennsylvania, a 16-year-old high school student was stabbed to death by a person wearing a clown mask, the AP reported. Police arrested Avery Valentin-Bair on a charge of second-degree murder for the attack.
Another clown sighting in Ohio turned violence, with Reading resident Kim Youngblood saying a young man dressed as a clown grabbed her by the neck.
“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 clown went on to make a 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.
Some schools in the Cincinnati area went on to cancel classes because of the threats.
But even amid some actual clown threats and a handful of incidents that have turned violent, police across the country are warning people not to get too worked up over the clown sightings. On Monday, the NYPD’s top terrorism cop warned that the clown sightings are not connecting to any credible threat and don’t need extra police in the areas of the sightings.
“We’re tracking it but we don’t see any real threat here,” said Deputy Commissioner John Miller (via CBS News). “We have tried to avoid falling into the trap of putting extra police protection or presence in places where we’ve had these.”
“Our main message is don’t believe the hype and don’t be afraid of the clowns.”
Police across the country say they don’t know the reason behind the clown threats and sightings or whether there is a common threat. Some have suggested that it could be related to Halloween approaching or possibly even a tie-in to the upcoming remake of the movie It.
[Featured Image by James Kenney/AP Images]