by SERGIO MADRID//Staff Writer

The worldwide trend of clown sightings has outraged many people, including law enforcement and professional clowns alike, who are failing to see the funny side of this prank.

Early in the morning on Oct. 16, a clown-sighting incident in California resulted in the arrest of a Santa Clarita homeowner. While smoking a cigarette outside his home, a clown approached a man who fired off a warning shot that caused the clown to runaway, after which he called the cops.

Police were unable to find the clown that fit the homeowner’s description. However, they did find a man in possession of a clown mask hiding in bushes near by. But it wasn’t the clown the homeowner saw. Police found the homeowner had possession of drugs and weapons that led to his arrest.

Police have requested people report sightings of suspicious individuals dressed as clowns. However, this has resulted in what many believe to be hoaxes and “prank calls.”

Recently, there was a sighting at Brashear Park in Levelland, near the South Plains College campus.

These sightings have not only angered certain communities, but have enticed people to violently take up clown-hunting parties.

For example, students at Penn State University took up arms, consisting of baseball bats and lacrosse sticks, in search of a clown that was reportedly spotted near the campus.

The video of the mob went viral on social media, and it has police worried.

SPC Campus Police Chief Nick Castillo fears this sort of reaction more than the scare-pranks themselves.

“What worries me more than anything is that individuals will dress as clowns trying to prank or scare people, and an individual, or a group of people will react and attack that person when there’s not really a threat,” Castillo continues. “There have been a few horrific stories in the past. But for the most part, it’s just people pranking.”

Chief Castillo said he understands that Halloween is right around the corner, and this may continue to be an issue. But he says dressing up is not a crime, though it may be disturbing. He recommends not to go looking for trouble, or put yourself in a situation where a simple prank will become more consequential.

“Call us,” Castillo adds. “We are better trained and better equipped to deal with an individual if they are causing problems.”

So, why would anyone dress like a clown? What makes a clown scary? What is the exact cause of this fear? It is hard to pinpoint one correct answer.

For years, the idea of scary clowns has been a subject of stories and scary movies, such as Stephen King’s 1990 film, “IT.”

Another contribution to this fear is the reality that exists within the notion of a scary clown. Take for instance the 1970’s serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was referred to as “the Killer Clown.”

Gacy, who killed a string of young men between the years of 1972 through 1978, was working as a clown and performed at children’s parties.

Posted by Plainsman Press Staff

The student newspaper of South Plains College.

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