What started as a series of sometimes disturbing and sometimes criminal "creepy clown" sightings in the Southeast region of the United States, with men dressed up as clowns and trying to lure children into the woods, has become a growing and unexplained phenomenon that stretches up the East coast and to places as far west as Arizona and Idaho.
Threats on social media and alleged sightings have led to school closures and official warnings from law enforcement, along with more than a dozen arrests.
Here is a map of the of clown sightings, threats, arrests and false reports since August resulting from the "killer-clown craze":
And here is a timeline of those events:
- August 29: Residents at the Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, South Carolina, report that a person wearing a clown costume had been spotted lurking around the apartment complex trying to convince children to come into the woods.
- Sep. 4: Police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, receive a call about a clown looking to lure children into the woods.
- Sep. 14: McDuffie County deputies in Georgia say Cameron Frails, 12, and his little brother, were walking to a bus stop when they were chased by men donning clown costumes.
- Sep 15: Authorities locked down Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School in Southern Alabama after clowns threaten students and post gun emojis on Facebook. So-called "Flomo Klowns" are spotted on the premises of both schools.
- Sep. 15: Authorities in Flomaton, Alabama, arrest 22-year-old Makayla Smith and two underage accomplices in connection with the threats to students at Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School.
- Sep. 19: Several children report a series of clown sightings in different neighborhoods of Annapolis, Maryland. Police later confirm the reports to be a hoax.
- Sep. 21: A middle school girl in Athens, Georgia, is arrested after bringing a knife into school. She claims it was for protection against clown attacks.
- Sep. 21: A 12-year-old in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is chased by a clown through a park.
- Sep. 24: A Palm Bay, Florida, resident reports spotting two “killer clowns” while walking her dog. She says the clowns were staring at her and frightened her to the point that she called police after returning home.
- Sep. 25: A child in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, is chased by three people who emerged from the woods dressed as clowns. Nobody has been hurt in the town but it is the fourth such incident reported in the area. Residents plead with the troublemakers to stop their antics.
- Sep. 27: Tennessee officials put out a warning telling residents to be vigilant as Halloween approaches. One teenager reports being attacked by a clown.
- Sep. 27: Police in Phoenix say two different fast-food restaurants were robbed by suspects wearing clown masks.
- Sep. 30: The New York Times reports that false reports or threats in connection to sightings of "creepy clowns" have led to the arrest of 12 people in over 10 states.
- Sep. 30: Threatening Facebook post from the account "Aint Clownin Around" leave at least five schools in three separate states on high alert. The post sent to students in students in Westside High School in Houston reads, "We will be at all High schools this Friday to either kidnap students or kill teachers going to they cars ..."
- Oct. 3: Police in Nampa, Idaho, confirm they have received reports of clown sightings in the area. They urge residents looking to join in the search for possible threatening persons should not participate.
- Oct. 3: Authorities at New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut urge principals and building leaders to ban clown costumes through Halloween this year.