While it might sound like a scene from a horror movie, sightings of killer clowns plague the country during the month of October. The first sightings were scattered across the southeastern states, but the alleged danger has spread. People have dressed up as clowns, carried dangerous weapons, and chased pedestrians into wooded areas. While some attacks are harmless pranks, others have resulted in deaths.
Massachusetts was recently hit with the killer clowns, with sightings in towns as close as Natick and Dedham. These clown threats began in early October. Many suggest that the threat will dissipate once the Halloween season is over, but that doesn’t resolve the issues currently facing the country. There is no way to distinguish which clowns are a legitimate danger, and many are not sure what to think of the issue.
On October 3 an armed clown was spotted on the campus of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. The whole campus was on lockdown soon after the sighting. It was later discovered, however, that this sighting was a hoax.
On October 4 a clown was spotted in Natick, Massachusetts. The clown was walking near Kennedy Middle School. Police were notified immediately after the sighting.
Just a day earlier on October 3 there was another sighting in Agawam, Massachusetts. A clown was spotted holding balloons and standing in the parking lot of a grocery store. The clown was holding a sign that read ‘Free Hugs’ and was waving to cars in the parking lot. At one point, the clown began chasing a car passing by. The driver captured the incident on video and notified the Agawam Police immediately.
“I think it is mostly just teenagers being dumb,” said Lucy Shribman ’19. “The clowns are such a big thing on social media, it is probably just copy cat attacks. Still, it is scary.”
Sunny Li ’17 had a different take. “I would run away as fast as I can,” Li said.
Will Hulme ’18 described his hypothetical reaction upon an encounter with one of these costumed peoples. “I would tell it to back off and if that doesn’t work I’d run. If that does work, I would keep minding my business,” Hulme said.
Wellesley has not yet had a clown sighting. Police around the country are advising citizens to notify authorities immediately after a sighting.
“I believe a lot of the hysteria and panic stems from isolated incidents across the country. One incident, in early August, involving a person dressed as a clown carrying black balloons in Green Bay, Wisconsin has lead to copycat acts, some exhibiting violent acts, in more and more parts around the country,” Officer Evan Rosenberg said.
Nevertheless, Rosenberg warns we should remain vigilant. “My personal feeling is that any threat made by a person dressed as a clown or not needs attention. I believe that eventually the clown epidemic will phase out as more and more people condemn this behavior, but we always need to be alert of all threats,” Rosenberg said.
“I encourage everyone to be smart about this problem and let us know if you have any concerns” Rosenberg added.
As far as Wellesley is concerned, Rosenberg believes that most people within the community are aware of the negative impact caused from this hysteria.
Despite the fact that the armed clowns can be dangerous, most of the sightings have been harmless pranks. Many faculty members have acknowledged this and don’t think the high school has the potential to be in any danger.
“This is not a security threat. It is just people going over the line of what’s funny and what’s not,” said guidance counselor Mr. John Steere.
Even though the clowns may not be a true threat, some still worry about the possibility of an attack. The fear of clowns an actual phobia, called coulrophobia. While studies have not been conducted on how many people are affected by this, it is at an estimated 12%.