Clowns cause dismay in the South, now in Kentucky

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Story by Lindsey Coleman, Contributing writer

Clowns trying to lure children and scare people have surfaced in more than ten states over the past month, and have now found their way to Kentucky.

According to WCPO Cincinnati, on Sept. 27, Gallatin County Schools in Northern Kentucky received threats of violence from Facebook accounts with clown images as their profile pictures.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Facebook about the incident. They said the creator of the accounts had been identified, but much more investigating is necessary.

BBC News had reported a separate clown incident in Kentucky on Sept. 23.

BBC News said, “Jonathan Martin, 20, was charged with wearing a mask in a public place and disorderly conduct in Middlesboro.”

The first clowns showed their faces in South Carolina in August, where The New York Times said, “costumed figures were offering children money to lure them into the woods or were lingering in places and giving residents the heebie-jeebies.”

Clown sightings were reported in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland. Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Some of which included:

  • Sept. 4: a clown attempting to lure kids into a wooded area in North Carolina
  • Sept. 21: a clown seen with what looked like a machete in Mississippi
  • Sept. 25: clowns jumping out of bushes to scare people in Maryland
  • Sept. 25: a clown seen holding a kitchen knife in Ohio

PRECAUTIONS IN MURRAY

Murray Police Department Chief, Jeff Liles, said there have been no real clown incidents in Murray. He said there was a report of a clown sighting, but nothing was found.

“We need to as a community, keep an eye on kids and teach them to not talk to strangers,” Chief Liles said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”

Though no harmful clowns have been found in Murray, Chief Liles said he wants the community to be aware of possible consequences.

“I want people to know that if you are dressed as a clown and are trying to lure kids in, we will press charges,” Chief Liles said. “We’re not going to put up with this in Murray and Calloway County.”

Chief Liles said the Murray Police Department will be in contact with local schools to educate them and to help prevent any incidents.

“If you do see anyone dressed as a clown, please let us know,” Chief Liles said.

James Herring, Chief of Police at Murray State’s Public Safety and Emergency Department, said no clowns have been reported on the Murray State campus.

Herring encouraged members of the community to report suspicious activity as usual.

He said the way to report suspicious activity is to use the LiveSafe App, call 911, 809-2222, or use one of the blue light phones on campus.

COMMUNITY RELATIONS

Kacie Lawrence, senior from Murray and a parent, said she saw many stories on Facebook about the clowns, but she isn’t terribly concerned.

“The most common thing that I seem to hear is that it’s a really big prank that’s expanded to other cities,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said she plans to take her two young children trick-or-treating, despite the scary clown incidents.

“Halloween for parents is really kind of a nightmare anyway. There are kids everywhere, and there’s people everywhere, and it’s really crowded,” Lawrence said,  “You’re extra vigilant trick-or-treating anyway, but as far as clowns, I’m not really too worried about it. I can’t speak for everyone’s kids, but I know my kids wouldn’t go anywhere near any of these clowns that I’ve seen in pictures.”

Lawrence said she doesn’t plan to mention the clowns to her kids.

“They don’t really know anything about it,” Lawrence said. “There’s not really a point in warning them about it other than the general ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ speech that I’ve already given them and that they already know.”

RuthAnn Drew, a Murray resident and mother of four, said the reports across the country scared her and made her concerned for her children.

She said she wants to warn her kids of new ways that a stranger could try to approach them.

“You can’t risk anything,” Drew said.

She said she wants her kids to be aware and smart about potential harmful situations.

“I just keep thinking that something is going to happen eventually, because we always feel like, ‘But we live in Murray,’ I feel like something is going to end up happening that is going to show us that we don’t live in a bubble,” Drew said.