By Tiffany Crawford/Special to the Langley Advance
and Langley Advance reporter Heather Colpitts
Langley mom Jamie-Lee Cavallari said her young sons saw a creepy clown near Simonds Elementary around lunchtime Friday.
“They [her boys] ran to a house down the street and pretended to live there and they said when they came back out to the street maybe five or 10 minutes, it was gone,” she told the Langley Advance.
She’s also heard from another mom who said the same clown was spotted near Uplands Elementary Friday morning.
Yes, Langley, the creepy clown phenomenon is here.
The social-media-fuelled frenzy that is causing fear and bizarre behaviour in the United States has spread to B.C.
Langley RCMP reported that several boys were terrified Wednesday morning when two older teenagers dressed as clowns jumped out from behind some bushes and chased them as they were walking to H.D. Stafford Middle School.
RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy said the incident happened in the morning, but was reported to RCMP by the school principal around 4 p.m. It is believed the teenagers were pulling a prank on the younger boys, and she said police are not recommending charges.
“No one was injured and I don’t think there was any intent to harm anyone,” she said, but cautioned that the situation would become serious if someone is harmed during one of these “clowning” pranks.
On Thursday, two teenagers were arrested in a separate clowning incident after a threat prompted Prince George schools to go on lockdown in the morning. Prince George RCMP said two teens, 16- and 17-year-old boys, were arrested at an area high school.
A photo posted on an Instagram account called “princegeorgeclowns”, but later deleted, shows a cartoon of three people wearing creepy clown masks and holding firearms with the caption “every school in PG about to get hit,” according to a Prince George Citizen report.
The social media phenomenon, in which people dress up like Stephen King-style bozos to frighten or unnerve others, seems to be gaining momentum ahead of Halloween. Many social media users are posting photos of clown sightings on Twitter tags such as @SpookyClowns, which had more than 184,000 followers as of Thursday morning.
Vancouver police Sgt. Brian Montague said Thursday the department had received no complaints about clown incidents or attacks in the city.
The latest hysteria began in August, when police responded to reports of eerie jesters trying to lure children into the woods in South Carolina. At the time, the Associated Press reported that after the first complaint on Aug. 29, several more children came forward to say they were worried about people lurking around their neighbourhoods dressed as clowns.
While most of the incidents are happening in the U.S., there have been a few reports in Canada, including one in Nova Scotia where a 24-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in Clark’s Harbour after witnesses reported that a suspect in a clown mask had grabbed a boy’s clothing.
Earlier in the week, Halifax police confirmed they were investigating after a photo posted on social media appeared to show a clown standing outside a local high school.
Meantime, south of the border, scores of students went on a staged hunt for clowns Tuesday at Penn State University, according to a report in the Centre Daily Times. And the frenzy prompted police in Utah to issue a statement on social media this week reminding residents that they are not allowed to shoot or attack people dressed up as clowns, as videos surface of violent encounters across the U.S.
“Here’s seven words we never thought we’d be saying …’Let’s have a serious talk about clowns’,” Utah police wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
They were responding to dozens of calls about clowns, with some asking officers if it would be legal to shoot someone dressed up like a clown.
“We understand that clowns to some people are already ‘creepy’ and some people have a phobia of them, we see that. However, if someone is standing on the sidewalk, dressed like a clown and they don’t have any weapons and they are just standing there not chasing anyone around and you call us, when we respond and that person decides to look at us and walk the other way without saying a word, we can’t do anything,” the Facebook post stated.
They warned that many of the clowns may be youth or teenagers who see the social media craze as an excuse to dress up like clowns and frighten people.
– Tiffany Crawford is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun.
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