Over the past few months the news has been flooded with reports of “bad clowns” being sighted all over the country.
The reports are typically the same — a person dressed like a clown has harassed someone. Some of these incidents have been caught on camera and people all over the country are scared.
A few school districts have been forced to take action after threats were made, and police have had to respond to many incidents so far. Numerous arrests have already been made and more are likely to come as this craze seems to be catching on by copycats.
So far at least 28 states have reported clown sightings, which include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A state-by-state report of the clown Sightings was compiled by Heavy.com and can be seen below:
Alabama Clown Sightings
To anyone wanting to dress like a clown and terrorize people in Alabama, a warning: that is an easy way to be shot.
— Bob Sentell Jr (@Commadore_Bob) September 20, 2016
In Alabama in late September, two high school students were arrested for making a clown video that threatened violence. A 10-year-old was arrested the same week for making clown threats.Some of the people arrested had made Facebook pages with fake clown names, like Flomo Klown and Kaleb Klown, and they were using those pages to make threats. At least nine clown-related arrests have been made in Alabama so far, including seven facing felony charges,Nola.com reported.
Arizona Clown Arrests & Sightings
Schools in Mesa, Arizona were on high alert after threatening messages from a clown on a social media account named “Ain’t Clowning Around.” The account threatened to go to high schools on Friday, September 30 and kidnap students or kill teachers, ABC 15 reported. This was almost identical to an Ain’t No Clowning Around social media page that threatened the same thing to Missouri schools, which you can read about in the Missouri section below.
To make the whole thing in Arizona even creepier, some students got threatening text messages that asked if they were ready to play and threatened to kill them, ABC 15 reported.
Police in Phoenix arrested three teenagers for making similar threats, AZCentral reported. Two teens were also arrested in Phoenix after robbing a Taco Bell and Domino’s while wearing clown masks, NBC4i reported.
Arkansas Clown Reports
Arkansas hasn’t been spared of clowns. Arkansas Online reported that Cross County received an unverified report that four people were dressed as clowns, traveling near West Merriman Avenue. Sheriff J.R. Smith said they had zero tolerance for anyone dressing up as a clown to scare other people. Other unverified sightings were in Pine Bluff near White Hall. According to Arkansas Online, a school resources officer in White Hall is being investigated for posing in a clown costume in an online photo. It’s unclear what the nature of the photo was.
A man was arrested for driving in Poinsett County in a clown mask and harassing a store clerk,NWA Online reported.
Meanwhile in White Hall, Arkansas, a police officer was suspended for two days without pay after dressing in a clown suit for a party at his parent’s home and posting the photo on social media, KATV reported. The photo was posted a couple days after clown sightings were reported to the department. He wasn’t linked to sightings in the White Hall area.
California Is Currently Clown-Free, But Dealt with a Series of Reports in 2014
California is clear of clowns so far, as of the time of publication. (We incorrectly stated earlier that there was a sighting in California.) One Heavy.com commenter below mentioned seeing a clown in California, but there have been no local media publications yet about sightings.
However, California has dealt with creepy clowns in the past, CNN reported. Two years ago, Bakersfield police dealt with 20 calls about clowns, including one carrying a weapon. Daily Mail even wrote an article titled: “Mystery clowns that are terrorizing California towns at night have started carrying GUNS.” But so far, the clowns haven’t returned.
Colorado Clown Threats
In Fort Collins, police reported on September 28 that a threatening Facebook message included a clown’s photo. It threatened local high school students. Meanwhile, more clown sightings are being reported all over Denver. One woman said a clown starting following he rafter she parked around 9:30 p.m. “Every time I would stop and turn around, it would just stare at me,” she said. When she got inside her house, it stood outside the window waving at her.
Florida Clown Reports
— GUS (@MSovak) September 29, 2016
Police weren’t sure if a Victoria Park, Florida sighting was a reported crime or just an attempt to scare someone, USA Today reported. A woman said two people dressed as clowns were staring her down, but she didn’t know why. They weren’t found. Meanwhile, a video surfaced of a clown hiding in the woods near a Marion County road, NBC Miami reported. You can watch the videohere. A clown was also spotted near Georgetown Apartments in Gainesville.
In the Bay Area, a teenage girl from Largo High School said that someone wearing clown shoes and a yellow-and-red-polka-dot outfit chased her while she was waiting at a school bus stop, Tampa Bay Times reported.
Pasco County also dealt with a clown scare and sent notifications warning parents about the concern. In the call, school officials said they were aware of an Ain’t Clowning Around Twitter site that posted threats to their high schools. The officials said they had no reason to believe the threat was credible, but were still placing the campuses on alert.
If you search this article for “Ain’t Clowning Around,” you’ll see that social media accounts with the same name have been making the same threats in states around the country.
This isn’t the first time Florida has dealt with scary clown sightings. In 2014, people began dressing as clowns and scaring people in different Florida towns, including Jacksonville. Surveillance videos caught them on porches and sidewalks, Click Orlando reported.
Georgia Clown Reports
The video above is from a WSB report of two girls who said they took Snapchat videos of a clown outside their apartment in Fort Oglethorpe. They said it appeared to be waving a knife before it ran away.
In Georgia, LaGrange police said they got multiple reports of children saying clowns were trying to lure them into wooded areas. A middle school was put on a soft lockdown because of clown reports, the LaGrange Daily News reported. In mid-September, two people were arrested for making false clown claims. Four people were later arrested for making clown threats, 11 Alive reported. Threats were also made to schools in Atlanta, AJC.com reported, but the district said there was no credible evidence for the threats.
In Athens, Georgia, an 11-year-old girl was so scared of clown reports that she took a knife with her to school for protection. She was arrested for carrying the knife.
Not all the clown reports are authentic, thought. In mid-September, Georgia police arrested two people for making false clown reports to 911. The two friends, in their mid-20s, called police and said they saw clowns in a white van.
Idaho Clown Reports
Idaho residents have also reported some creepy clowns. In fact, so many are reporting clowns that the Nampa Police Department posted on Facebook that “the large number of Nampa residents who are out looking for clowns is making this more difficult to deal with.” Idaho Statesman reported that several residents called the police about seeing people dressed as clowns, including one carrying a machete. But every time the police went to that location, the clown suspects were gone. Among these sightings are people talking about a brightly colored van that had several clowns inside.
In Wendell, a teen said they received an anonymous text that a clown was coming to their school. The Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release about several students getting harassed similarly on Facebook. They said this was identical to harassing that students across the country were receiving.
Illinois Clown Sightings
And yes, there have been some clown sightings in Illinois too. According to The Haverhill Gazette, a man dressed in a clown costume approached a resident’s daughter and friend at night while they were sitting on their porch in Effingham and shined a flashlight on them. She said they saw the clown again a few days later at a vacant home nearby. No one has been arrested.
Indiana Clown Reports
Indiana has had some clown sightings too. Steve Stewart, chief of police in Muncie, Indiana, commented about numerous Facebook rumors concerning clowns in the area. One post said that police were recommending people stay inside and keep their doors locked. However, police said it was possible people were starting rumors to scare people. Stewart said: “The thing I want the public to know is we know who some of these people (behind the rumors) are and we will be watching them closely,” The StarPress reported, adding that some of the people starting the rumors might also be dressing up as clowns.
In late September, a bus driver called police after finding out that a clown was scaring kids at a Fort Wayne bus stop, WANE.com reported.
Kentucky Clown Arrests
Lurking clown arrested by Kentucky police
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 23, 2016
In Kentucky, police arrested a man who was lurking around, dressed as a clown. He was dressed in a clown costume, hiding in trees by an apartment complex, police said. According to Kentucky.com, the man arrested was a 20-year-old in Bell County who was walking in a wooded area near apartments at around 2 a.m. In Gallatin County, Kentucky, extra security was assigned to schools after two people posted threatening messages on Facebook that included creepy clown profile pictures.
Meanwhile, one resident in Plano posted a weird photo on Facebook of a clown that she said was in her daughter’s backyard. This photo has been wrongly attributed to Plano, Texas, but it was actually in Plano, Kentucky.
And this was reported in Drake:
In Winchester, Kentucky, a woman told police that she was walking on a trail the night of Friday, September 30, when she was assaulted by a man wearing a clown mask, WDRB reported. She fought him off and escaped.
According to Kentucky.com, there have been many other sightings in the state, including in Waco and Laurel County. Sightings have been reported in multiple cities in the state.
Louisiana Clown Reports
Clowns were also seen in south Louisiana, KPLC 7 News reported in late September. Two people entered Matherne’s Supermarket in Paulina while wearing clown masks. They left when the manager told them to go. Unlike some sightings, these didn’t seem aggressive.
Maryland Clown Sightings
Residents in Salisbury called police because they saw three people dressed as clowns hiding and jumping out of bushes, trying to scare people. They had blue hair and clown masks, but police didn’t find them, USA Today reported. Police searched a neighborhood for the clowns and eventually issued a statement asking people to stop scaring each other.
Meanwhile, four elementary-aged students in Annapolis said they saw clowns on their way to school, but police later realized it was all a hoax.
In fact, so many creepy clowns were being reported in Maryland that some clowns backed out of a Hagerstown parade so they didn’t cause any stress.
Michigan Clown Sightings
Sightings have spread to Michigan, leaving many residents on edge. 9&10 News reported that a clown was “prowling a neighborhood” in Big Rapids late at night on Tuesday. A caller said the clown was wearing a blue costume, had red-pink hair, and was just staring at people before running into a wooded area.
Meanwhile, Port Huron police have said they haven’t received any legitimate clown claims, as of September 30, The Times Herald reported.
A commenter on this article said there were clowns spotted in Lapeere, Michigan, but we haven’t yet been able to confirm that sighting yet with news reports.
Missouri Clown Reports
Missouri has also had quite a few clown sightings. Some reports were fake, as a Rolla police officer complained about in this Facebook post above. He wrote: “Then I ended up tracking down the young aspiring cinematographers, who will remain nameless… They had also heard of the creepy clowns that have been sweeping through the nation doing their nefarious deeds. Well it turns out one of the girls has [sic] a little bit of a fear of clowns so they decided to play a joke on her. They had one of the husbands put on a black outfit and put on a creepy clown mask.”
Not all of the sightings have been debunked, however, but they also haven’t been proved. In Cole County, multiple people have called in with clown sightings, but law enforcement hasn’t been able to locate any of the clowns.
A Facebook post on Friday, September 30 in Howard County threatened that clowns were going to kidnap students and kill teachers in mid-Missouri schools. The schools went on lockdown as a result, including the California R-1 School District, ABC17 News reported. The Sheriff’s Department said there was no immediate threat:
A series of clown sightings were reported in Jefferson County, Ozarks First reported. An anonymous caller said he saw a clown with a knife near Pevely Pointe Apartments. They could not find anyone to verify the claim at the location. Social media claims said clowns were seen southwest of Hillsboro, but Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said it didn’t get any calls about that. Granite City police told KMOV they had gotten about 10 calls about people dressed as clowns, but they also couldn’t verify the claims.
A commenter to Heavy.com below said that two clowns were sighted near Kirksville, but they said they were only out to prank a friend.
Mississippi Clown Sightings
Creepy clown lurks in Mississippi town https://t.co/wwtN5WHKRy
— Deanne Tanksley (@deannetanksley) September 26, 2016
A man dressed in a multi-colored wig, a mask, and overalls was seen carrying a machete in Mississippi. He ran away from a police patrol vehicle and hasn’t been arrested, USA Today reported. A driver in Rankin County said a clown sighting caused a wreck on Highway 469. And Facebook photos show a clown lurking around McComb.
New Jersey Clown Sightings
Please be safe everyone. There has been a clown sighting in Bayonne. This especially goes to my friends in Jersey City. pic.twitter.com/Dvv7smSpnp
— Dianna (@stephdiannaxo) October 1, 2016
Apparently there have been some reports of clowns in New Jersey, including clowns carrying weapons, NJ.com reported. A boy said he was chased into the woods by three clowns in Walters Park in New Jersey, but police couldn’t find the suspects. Three additional sightings were reported in Warren County. A child said he was chased down Shafer Avenue by a jester holding a sword. And a resident reported seeing a truck with several clowns driving down Mercer.
On Friday, September 30, Philipsburg Middle School had a shelter-in-place due to a threat that a clown would attack the school. Police ruled the threat not credible, New Jersey 101.5 reported.
Vineland Public Schools received one of the “Ain’t Clowning Around” social media threats that many states are getting. They let parents know through a phone notification about the social media message.
Toms River police spokesman Ralph Stocco told 101.5 that early clown sightings may have stemmed from a movie promotion, that eventually led to copycats.
New York Clown Sightings
@MoodyMelz PLS RT❗️That was so unreal but this information needs to be spread! BE SAFE.
— ?? (@MoodyMelz) September 29, 2016
Police in Long Island, New York sent out warnings on Friday, September 30, about clown sightings from the previous week. One person said people dressed as clowns were jumping in front of cars. Another said that a person was dressed as a clown in North Babylon. No arrests have been made. North Babylon High School was put on a lock out on Friday after an unknown person made clown-related threats on social media, ABC 7 NY reported.
Sightings have also been reported near Utica College. On Thursday night, September 29, callers told police that two clowns approached people in Pixley Park carrying what appeared to be baseball bats and knives. Law enforcement couldn’t find the clowns. Police received other calls about clowns in Utica, but these callers didn’t see the clowns carrying weapons.
Herkimer police have also gotten calls about clowns. One sighting was at a K-Mart on Washington Street, WKTV reported. A second sighting was on September 28, a few blocks away. The person dressed as a clown was reported to be wearing “creepy killer clown attire” but only made eye contact.
In Syracuse, a 10-year-old boy told police three men in clown costumes approached him and he hid between two houses from them, until he had a chance to flee.
Syracuse Police say one child hid between two homes and called 911. Police say they have a detailed description of the three clowns pic.twitter.com/tfHjovb9Ff
— Alex Dunbar (@AlexDunbarNews) September 29, 2016
And in Amsterdam, middle school students said a clown chased them down several streets. Four other similar reports were made to authorities.
North Carolina Clown Reports
Children in North Carolina reported in early September that a clown tried to lure them into the woods. He had red shoes, red hair, a white face, and a red nose. He offered them treats. Police have made no arrests, USA Today reported. Meanwhile, earlier in September Greensboro residents said a clown ran into the woods after it was chased by a man with a machete.
— Sarah Krueger (@SarahKruegerTV) September 5, 2016
In early September, police started doing extra patrols in Winston-Salem after two children said a clown was trying to lure kids into the woods with treats. The clown was wearing white overalls, red shoes, red hair, and a red nose. The police couldn’t find the suspect, Fox News reported.
On person on Facebook shared this post from North Carolina:
Despite what the post reads, reports were of clowns trying to lure kids away, but there were no reports, as of the time of publication, of actual kidnappings in North Carolina.
In early September, a North Carolina man was arrested for making a false report to police that a clown had knocked on his window at night. He had claimed that he had chased the clown into the nearby woods.
Ohio Clown Sightings
Ohio is one state with recent sightings. On Thursday night, September 29, a woman reported that she was attacked by a man dressed as a clown, who then threatened students at the Reading Community School District. Mount Notre Dame High School was also closed because it shares a parking lot with Reading High School, Cincinnati.com reported. The woman was smoking a cigarette on her porch when a man dressed as a clown grabbed her around the neck and made threats against the school and her. The School District later reported that the man had not yet been arrested:
In another incident, a juvenile was arrested in Colerain Township who threatened the high school there. The police said in a Facebook post:
This suspect used the current clown trend to further terrorize parents and students and has been charged with Making Terrorist Threats and Inducing Panic.”
Reading’s Homecoming Parade, football game, and homecoming dance were set to continue as scheduled.
Meanwhile, a clown hoax was uncovered in Norwalk, Ohio. A photo was posted to Facebook claiming clowns were seen in Norwalk and the police got calls from people who said they saw people in clown costumes harassing residents, jumping out of the woods and scaring people, and trying to break into homes, Fox 8 reported. One woman even live streamed on Facebook as she was hunting for clowns. Police found the man and woman who made the original photo that went viral on Facebook. The couple said they dressed as clowns themselves for the photo because they wanted to be famous.
And in Columbus, Ohio, teens reported being chased by a six-foot-tall man who was holding a knife while wearing a clown mask.
During the first weekend of October, more arrests were made connected to clowns. Montgomery police charged five students with inciting panic connected to clowns, CBS News reported. And in Fairborn, police arrested a 15-year-old boy for making terroristic threats when he created a clown persona on Facebook and used it to send death threats to students in Fairborn.
This video at this link was shared on Facebook in Ohio, but it’s not authenticated, so we don’t know if it might just be something made up to share on social media.
Oregon Clown Sightings
When the clown epidemic reaches Oregon and your BACKYARD IS LITERALLY 9 ACRES OF FOREST
— Kenz ? (@knzsnfrd) October 2, 2016
The scary clown reports made their way to Oregon too, according to KTVZ. An employee of Central Oregon Eyecare reported seeing someone dressed as a clown around 10:30 p.m. near Southwest Indian Avenue and 11th street in Redmond. The employee said they were wearing a clown mask and blue pants. She asked for a police escort to her car because she was scared, but police couldn’t find the suspect.
Another clown was reported in Portland, Oregon. A woman shopping near O’Bryant Square around noon on Friday, September 30, said a man wearing a silver clown mask and black clothes came up to her car and started banging on the driver’s side window. He tried to open all the doors and she sped away.
Pennsylvania Clown Stabbing & Threats
PennLive reported that a high school student was stabbed and killed after getting in a fight with someone wearing a clown mask. But that’s not the only report. York College students reported seeing students on and off campus dressed as clown in late September, including a car full of people dressed as clowns and possibly carrying weapons, USA Today reported. They weren’t found by police. Pottsville, PA police are investigating reports of clowns yelling at children.
Children in Northampton County said three people dressed as clowns chased them one Monday afternoon, but school staff didn’t see the clowns. Other sightings were reported in Easton and Huntingdon County.
Philadelphia is now affected too, with a social media account posting a threat specifically toward Philadelphia school students, 6ABC.com reported. The threats read: “We coming to all north east charter high schools…we will be after your let out on Wednesday” and “the gang is in philly … ya’ll ain’t safe. it’s 12 of us yaheard [sic].” The Philadelphia police department and the school district released a joint statement on Sunday saying the Office of Homeland Security was also alerted and they are taking the threats seriously.
Clowns were also reportedly sighted in Philadelphia on Sunday at Boyle Park. The clowns, residents said, were chasing kids but ran away from the parents. If you have any information about the Philadelphia threat, call 215-686-TIPS.
A video purportedly showing a clown on the side of the road in Mercer, Pennsylvania ended up being a viral photo that’s been attributed to multiple locations, including West Virginia. (See the West Virginia entry for more information.)
South Carolina Clown Sightings
This is the state where the problem began in mid-August, the New York Times reported. Residents reported a white man in clown makeup and red hair staring a woman down at a laundromat. Children reported clowns trying to lure them into the woods.
In early September, police started doing extra patrols in Winston-Salem after two children said a clown was trying to lure kids into the woods with treats. The clown was wearing white overalls, red shoes, red hair, and a red nose. The police couldn’t find the suspect, Fox News reported.Police also said a number of clowns were reported in Greenville County hiding near apartment complexes and knocking on doors. One apartment complex even sent a letter out to residents warning them. The sightings haven’t been confirmed by police or with video or photos.
One Greenville apartment complex warned them to stick to the 10 p.m. curfew and not let their children out alone. No arrests have yet been made and authorities have said the sightings haven’t been officially confirmed. (Learn more in our story here.)
Tennessee Clown Robbery
On September 28, two men — one dressed in a clown mask — robbed a Memphis bank after carrying explosives inside, USA Today reported. In a separate incident, a social media threat led to two Nashville schools going on lockdown, but police later said the clown threat wasn’t credible.
Texas Clown Sightings
Clown sightings are being reported in Texas, too, and they’re increasing in number. In Corpus Christi, someone posted a clown photo on social media and said they would visit 10 campuses. A seventh-grader faces disciplinary action after encouraging the anonymous clown to visit his school, KRISTV reported. It’s not known yet who was the source of the original post.
Meanwhile, clown sightings are growing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. DFW Scanner issued an update on Facebook about clown sightings. Fort Worth police reported that a person saw a clown running on a sidewalk in a residential area, and more than a dozen other sightings have been reported. DFW Scanner wrote that there were so many reports out there, it was tough to separate fact from rumor. Here’s just one story posted to Facebook about an experience with clowns in Fort Worth:
In Austin, Texas, social media threats have been made against several schools including Reagan and Travis Early College High Schools and Martin Middle School. There have also been unverified sightings of clowns, KXAN reported. Hays CISD said it investigated a clown threat that it determined was a hoax. Manor ISD investigated claims about a clown at the high school, but couldn’t verify the claims. And Del Valle High School heard a rumor about clowns, but said school would continue as usual.
Virginia Clown Sightings
Fort Defiance had multiple clown sightings, USA Today reported, but no one was caught. Multiple callers said people were dressed as clowns. Wearing anything that conceals your identity, if you’re over 16, is against Virginia law and can be a class 6 felony.
WTVR reported seven places in Chesterfield County where creepy clowns were spotted. In one incident, a man tried to open a driver’s car door on Old Warson Drive, with another person dressed as a clown standing behind him. On Marina Drive, a person reported seeing someone wearing a clown suit while holding a knife. And clowns were seen running on Omo Road and on Alberta Road. And a 13-year-old boy was cited by police for creating a social media account for a clown that referenced a school shooting.
In Petersburg, a woman reported seeing two clowns in a car, driving erratically. At a stop light, one got out and started approaching her car, NBC 12 reported.
A mother in Henrico County, Virginia took video of someone dressed as a clown who was riding in a car and stopped next to them at an intersection. Here’s the video. Do you think the mom and daughter were overreacting?
This wasn’t the only sighting in Henrico though. NBC 12 reported that three clowns were seen driving around Knight Drive, entering back yards and knocking on windows. Police couldn’t find the suspects.
Washington Clown Reports
Some reports are coming in from Washington state too. The News Tribune reported sightings in Pierce County. Three people said they saw men dressed in scary clown costumes hiding under bridges or in wooded areas. There were no reports of crime or violence. A sheriff’s spokesman said they were probably just “jumping on the bandwagon of what’s been going on around the country.”
West Virginia Clown Photo or Hoax?
Some sightings have cropped up in West Virginia, but it’s unclear how accurate or authentic they are. This photo was shared on Facebook showing a clown standing on the side of the road in the Montcalm/Duhring region:
Fox 29 reported on the photo here. This particular photo, however, has gone viral so it’s tough to pinpoint just where it originated, making it more likely to be a hoax. It was shared on YouTube with the claim that the clown was seen in Mercer, Pennsylvania.
Wisconsin Clown Sightings Hoax
The sighting in Wisconsin ended up being a hoax. A man who set up a Facebook account to report sightings of Gags the Green Bay Clown later came clean and said it was part of an independent horror film coming out soon.
An incident in Wisconsin from last year, November 2015, adds an interesting perspective to the whole thing.
— Nick Bohr (@NickBohr) November 24, 2015
A mom’s son in Waukesha, Wisconsin was often dressing up as a clown even into late November. She said he did it for laughs and smiles and didn’t intend to upset anyone. But many people were disturbed to see a random clown wandering around. Some of the sightings, his mom insisted, could not have been her son, but may have come from someone else dressing in a similar clown costume.
Clown sightings aren’t limited to the United States. In 2013, a 22-year-old filmmaker was arrested in Northampton after he dressed up as a clown and continually scared people in the area. Someone even started dressing as a vigilante to catch the clown before he was identified:
— AJ (@JuneJailer) September 15, 2013
In 2014, Daily Mail reported that people in America and Europe were dressing up as clowns and scaring strangers. Police in France even issued a warning against mobs of clowns or vigilante mobs going after clowns.
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