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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2017

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“Creepy Clowns” phenomenon spreads

“Creepy Clowns” phenomenon spreads

By CAITLIN WILLIAMS

Clowns are normally the face of Halloween and circus acts. Recently, however, in Fredericksburg and on the University of Mary Washington campus, creepy clowns have become the face of threats.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, an individual wearing a creepy clown mask approached a woman in a vehicle with her driver window open, reached in and growled at her.

The clown suspect then ran through campus and into the Sunken neighborhood. Although the victim was not hurt, this is being investigated by Fredericksburg City Police as an assault report.

This brings to light the question: has the “creepy clown” occurrence been brought to the Fredericksburg area? Is there more to come from this? Will it be much more drastic next time than just a growl?

According to local Fox 5 news, “a ‘creepy clown’ phenomenon has been spreading across the country as police departments have been receiving reports of people dressing up as clowns acting suspiciously or clown-related online threats being posted on social media threatening harm at schools in the D.C. region.”

The phenomenon started in South Carolina in late August, when in the small town of Greenville, clowns were hiding in the woods. Multiple reports from children in the small town neighborhood of Fleetwood Manor stated that there was a person dressed as a clown with a white painted face hanging out on the playground, trying to lure the children into the woods.

Reports from parents and even other adults have stated sounds of chains, whispering and strange noises coming from the woods along with sightings of clowns in the woods and on the streets.

In an announcement from UMW Office of Public Safety that came out two days after the attack of the clown in Fredericksburg, students were warned of the clown activity. Students were cautioned to remain aware of their surroundings and call the campus police to report any concerns or suspicious activity.

“We have recently received calls and monitored social media posts about reported sightings of people wearing disturbing clown masks on campus and around Fredericksburg,” stated the Office of Public Safety.

“I think the whole thing that happened on campus was just a prank based off of media and Internet exposure to the whole clown phenomenon,” said Stephanie Runner, a senior in the UMW Education program.

With the rise of press attention to the clown stories, more and more clown occurrences have been reported. “I don’t think that instance was any danger to the community. I think it was just someone who wanted to get a rise out of the community,” Runner said.

The clown assault case is still under investigation with Fredericksburg City Police.