Clown calls nothing to laugh about

WARREN – With October being the month for dressing up in costumes, it shouldn’t be unusual that people are encountering someone in a clown outfit. However, the first weekend of the month showed various area law enforcement agencies answering calls about suspicious activity involving people dressed as clowns.

It’s part of a “creepy clown craze” popping up across the nation over recent weeks.

A Trumbull County 911 dispatch supervisor who works second shift said she received a few calls Sunday evening about suspicious clowns.

“However, when we sent somebody out to investigate, we couldn’t find anything,” the 911 supervisor said.

The supervisor said none of the calls involved violence, but a Warren city police report on Saturday evening showed potential for disaster.

The report said a caller in the 100 block of Oak Knoll Avenue SE reported about 8 p.m. Saturday that a male on a bike wearing a clown mask claimed he was going to eat her dog. She told police the clown on the bicycle carried a metal pole.

She told police that the clown dropped the bike in the roadway and ran when she got a knife.

A Braceville resident called 911 about 8 p.m. Sunday to report a person dressed as a clown walking in the woods along Braceville Robinson Road.

On Saturday, the county 911 center received several calls that several teens saw a clown in a wooded area near the Forest Ridge Court Apartments off Orchard Court in Weathersfield Township police said no report was made.

Since August, people in upstate New York and in states including South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Georgia have reported scary or suspicious incidents involving people dressed as clowns. And two suburban school districts on Long Island recently beefed up security after alerting police of clown reports, according to Associated Press reports.

Police and Homeland Security are investigating scary Instagram posts in Philadelphia. The posts from over the weekend all use the word clown; some even talk about blowing up schools.

In Cincinnati, a school district closed Friday when a woman reported being attacked by a male dressed as a clown. Several arrests were made there, reports said.

In Houston, a 14-year-old student was charged Monday with making a terroristic threat against a Houston Independent School District school on social media using the image of a clown.

The district, the largest in Texas, says police are continuing to investigate other threats made against its campuses. It describes the threats as believed to be part of a national hoax.

New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner John Miller on Monday told reporters that the department had assessed supposed clown threats against the city on social media and deemed them harmless.

“We’re tracking it but we don’t see any real threat here,” Miller said. “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.”

gvogrin@tribtoday.com