Where did the creepy clown craze start?


The creepy clown craze officially came to the city this week, with at least one sighting in Manhattan and various threats in the Bronx.

The sightings and rumors of sightings across the country have been hard to keep up with. Here’s a look at where it all started.

Where did this clown craze start?

In early August, a clown was spotted in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A person wearing a creepy clown costume was seen walking around with black balloons, but police told residents the person wasn’t posing any threat.

A few weeks later, the craze took off in South Carolina. There were several complaints of people in clown makeup attempting to lure children into the woods in one of the state’s northwest counties, The New York Times reported in late August. Similar incidents were reported in a city in North Carolina.

Where else have there been sightings?

Since then, creepy clown sightings or online threats have popped up in multiple states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Some of the cases have led to arrests.

Many of the threats have been directed at schools. One public district in Connecticut has banned clown costumes on Halloween in response to a number of threats on social media.

Reports of clowns around colleges and universities led students at some schools, including Pennsylvania State University and Connecticut University, to hold large clown hunts.

And at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, a threat of an armed clown put the school on lockdown for 30 minutes on Oct. 3.

The majority of the incidents have not led to any serious injuries, but one incident in Pennsylvania was being investigated as possibly linked to a fatal stabbing.

Where have clowns been seen in NYC?

A person wearing clown clothes was seen in the 96th Street-Lexington Avenue subway station on Oct. 5. The person at the Upper East Side station chased a 16-year-old boy while displaying a knife, police said. The boy was able to flee the station and was not injured, they said.

There was reportedly a similar sighting in East Elmhurst the day before. A 16-year-old boy told police he saw a person dressed as a clown, holding a knife outside his bedroom window, according to DNA Info.

Preston, John F. Kennedy, Dewitt Clinton and Harry S Truman high schools in the Bronx also received threats through clown accounts on Facebook and Instagram, but police said they weren't credible.

What is the NYPD’s response?

The NYPD said it has looked into various clown threats.

“So far we’ve found none of these to be credible,” Deputy Commissioner John Miller said on Monday. “We have tried to avoid falling into the trap of putting extra police protection or presence in places where we’ve had these.”

He encouraged people to not worry about the craze. “Our main message is: Don’t believe the hype and don’t be afraid of the clowns,” he said.

But the NYPD has not made a public statement regarding the reported sightings since these comments.

Has this happened before?

Some New Yorkers may remember the clown that was spotted two years ago on Staten Island. In March 2014, there were a number of reports of the clown, dressed like Pennywise from Stephen King’s “It.” The clown didn’t harm anyone and turned out to be a promotional stunt for a film company.

 

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