DARKE COUNTY — The report of a man claiming he was assaulted by two “clowns” in downtown Greenville on Tuesday has evoked others in the community to feel worried, annoyed and even scared.
With reports of clowns popping up in at least 10 states, people are on edge. Other states have reported serious crimes relating to the clowns like attempting to lure children into the woods or chasing a school-aged child down the street with a knife.
Locals have told stories of their own recent encounters with the circus performers. Reports of sightings in the Greenville Kroger parking lot, a “clown” jumping out at a car passing by on State Route 502, and two “clowns” running out in front of a car on Beam Road east of Ansonia are just a few of the stories being shared.
But are these “clowns” serious or just joking? Are the stories of the sightings true? Local law enforcement said they are not receiving reports of these incidents from county residents.
On Tuesday afternoon, Greenville Police Chief Dennis Butts said the department did receive a complaint from a junior high school coach that four individuals wearing clown masks were interacting with the team.
“The four were high school kids who were located and warned,” said Chief Butts.
Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office said no reports of “clown” sightings had been received so far, but Deputies investigated a vehicle on the side of the road on State Route 49 Tuesday night; the occupants claimed to be hunting “clowns.”
Another person filed a report that some home electronics were allegedly hacked in to and that he received a text that “clowns” were responsible.
Whether pranks or not, the two chiefs warn of serious repercussions if portraying a “clown.”
Butts said he encourages people not to engage in activities that can or may cause alarm or fear to others.
“Criminal charges may be filed in these incidents,” he said.
Whittaker said although dressing up like a clown is not illegal, he warns that engaging in threatening or menacing behavior towards others could be.
“For those that think it is funny or self-entertaining to scare people by dressing as a clown it would be wise to realize there are many people that exercise their right to carry firearms for the purpose of self protection,” said Chief Whittaker. “I would hate to see an incident that was meant to be prank by one person turn into a deadly result because the other felt threatened.”
Whittaker said that some reports of sightings outside of the county have indicated that clowns were armed with various weapons or simulated weapons.
“…That is exactly the type of thing that could prompt the use of a firearm for self protection,” he warns.
Butts said he wants to remind residents that people behind the costumes are just normal (or somewhat normal).
“…people who have decided for whatever reason to act like idiots,” said Butts.
Residents are encouraged to report people dressed like clowns that are acting menacing, threatening or suspicious to their local law enforcement or the Sheriff’s Office.
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