Creepy clown phenomenon hitting Minnesota; no truth to sightings, officials say
ST. PAUL — Creepy clowns have suddenly invaded Minnesota, lurking in schools, offering candy to kids and chasing cars in the dark.
At least, that’s what it says on the internet.
A burst of reports on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in 48 hours said frightening clowns had been spotted in a dozen Minnesota communities. Yet as of Tuesday afternoon, not a single sighting was known to be verified by police or school officials.
The only harm from the clown invasion mainly seems to be calls from worried parents, who see the leering, jagged-tooth, paint-covered faces online.
“There have been national reports of clowns chasing kids,” said Tim Conroy, who had to deal with parents calling Rosemount High School on Monday. A posting on Twitter reported that “multiple clowns” were lurking in the school Monday night.
“We investigated, and there’s nothing to it,” said assistant principal Conroy. “The worst thing that happened here Monday was a girl who spilled Starbucks in the parking lot.”
On Sunday and Monday, Minnesota quickly caught up with the rest of the country, where the creepy clown phenomenon has been reported for months.
In Hopkins, police said Wednesday that a 15-year-old Bloomington girl is suspected of setting up a “Kroacky Klown” profile on Facebook and making threats to “kill” in the city and “other numerous cities.”
According to police, the girl, who had no direct ties to Hopkins, told investigators that she used her younger sister’s smartphone on Tuesday to create the fictitious account in order to scare her boyfriend. However, “the situation got out of control and went ‘viral,’ ” police said.
Investigators worked with Facebook to trace the origins of the hoax.
Woodbury police were called about a clown on Settlers Ridge Parkway at 10:50 p.m. Monday. The clown was reportedly “chasing cars and screaming at people.” Police responded but remained clown-less.
Twitter postings included sightings of clowns in Apple Valley, Blaine, St. Cloud, Elk River, Lindstrom, Alexandria and Mankato.
In Waseca, a yellow-haired clown near a water park reportedly was seen with “what appears to be a chainsaw.”
A clown was reported in Bloomington at 12:51 a.m. with “swirly brown hair near Bush Lake’s parking lot with balloons.” On Grand Street in Minneapolis, someone reported at 12:15 a.m. a clown with a “painted face, and a possible large knife.”
Nationally, various media outlets have reported menacing clowns in more than 10 states.
In Utah, police “advised against shooting random clowns.” In Reading, Pa., on Sept. 25, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death, possibly by a man wearing a clown mask. In other states, people have also been arrested for clown-related hoaxes and threats.
But police say the danger from psycho-clowns is almost always a fantasy. They point out that real-life criminals generally want to escape undetected — so dressing up in a clown costume is the last thing they’d do.
The cases are usually bogus, or involve teenagers dressing up to scare someone.
Nevertheless, Minnesota police and sheriff’s offices have been getting so many reports that they have posted denials on websites.
The Anoka County sheriff’s office posted a statement on Facebook, refuting claims that clowns had been spotted in Anoka and Andover.
In Farmington, police had to respond to “Bobo the friendly clown,” who posted a message on Instagram.
“It said, ‘Someone spotted me by Rambling River Park. Look for me tomorrow. I will visit the kids at Boeckman and Dodge (two elementary schools) at lunchtime,’ ” said Police Chief Brian Lindquist.
He isn’t sure if the postings are meant to be humorous or are pre-Halloween stunts.
On the department’s Facebook page, Lindquist made a tongue-in-cheek invitation to the scary clown: “You are more than welcome to have lunch with me and my officers. … I have a very scary jail cell I think you would appreciate seeing.”
Then, on Wednesday morning, he posted another message. A “very upset parent” of a child called, saying the child posted the Bobo warning. “There was no malicious intent, there was no ill will,” wrote Lindquist. “It was merely an attempt to scare a best friend.”