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Clown craze comes to Valdez as concerned citizens call police

Epidemic of scary clown reports and social media threats not very funny


Graeme Maclean photo via Wikimedia Commons

A creepy clown craze is sweeping the U.S. with sinister sightings reported across the country.

The creepy clown craze sweeping the country came to Valdez last week.

Last Friday, a concerned citizen called Valdez police dispatch to report

"some teens were at Safeway when they were approached by kids wearing Clown masks," according to the weekly press release issued by the Valdez Police Dept. " Officers responded to the area but the clowns had left. Another caller reported the clowns at the Middle School."

The Valdez spotting of so called scary clowns ended on a light note.

"An Officer contacted the individuals involved and told them to stop clowning around!," police said.

It is a different story across the rest of the nation as people dressed as clowns committing crimes began to surface earlier this summer, and teenagers have used images of clowns to make threats against schools via social media.

The scares occurring in the Lower 48 have prompted some school districts to ban clown outfits for student Halloween parties and police in Roswell, New Mexico are asking residents to refrain from wearing clown outfits.

While no accusations against the Valdez clowns has been noted and there is no district ban on clown outfits for Halloween this year, Jim Nygaard, superintendent of Valdez City Schools, said recent events make it hard for adults in the community.

"Events like Halloween are getting tougher and tougher for parents," Nygaard said in a telephonic interview Monday night.

Nygaard noted that having oddly colored hair or wearing clown suits is protected speech, it does not give students or anyone in the community the right to act improperly.

"We expect appropriate behavior," he said. "If something affects our kids, if there's someone stalking the premises - we will address it."

What began as vague reports of a "scary clown" trying to lure a young child into a wooded area in North Carolina last August has morphed into sighting of clowns acting strange to actual threats and crimes in various cities across the country.

In Pennsylvania, hundreds of Penn State students evacuated their dorms and marched around campus searching for a clown that campus police say existed only in their minds.

The Associated Press said Penn State police Sgt. Mike Nelson conservatively estimated at least 500 students marched and chanted during a "clown hunt" that was prompted by Twitter and other social media posts.

In another incident involving college-age students, a shelter in place order was put in place in a Massachusetts college after phony a "clown watch" scare.

In other cases, teenagers have made threats against schools via social media using images of clowns - and some were caught later in possession of weapons. Others have posted that armed clowns will invade various school campuses, prompting swift action by school authorities and law enforcement.

This was the case in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where authorities say three juveniles were dressed as clowns and later taken in to custody after being found with a possible firearm.

Some criminal clown reports are funny, but not humorous.

Police in Reading, Ohio said an 18-year-old woman lied about being attacked by a knife-wielding clown as an excuse for being late for work.

Police there said investigators found inconsistencies in 18-year-old Alexsandra Conley's story and charged her with making a false alarm, a misdemeanor.

Not all clown sightings are harmless.

A woman in Concord, California reported an attempted kidnap by a clown on her one-year old daughter.

The clown craze has prompted comments from the White House and popular horror author Stephen King, creator of Pennywise the clown, who terrorized children and adults in book and a movie, IT.

A new It movie is in the works, prompting some to question whether or not the first clown sightings may have been a publicity stunt for the movie, which the producers have vehemently denied.


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