Sightings across the United States of creepy clowns with red lips and fixed smiles have become anything but a laughing matter and have cast a menacing tone as Halloween approaches.
Since late August, the trend of trying to scare unsuspecting people has grown with scary-looking clowns lurking in woods, appearing on dark roads or driving in cars, some brandishing knives.
The spine-chilling sightings have been reported in states ranging from California and Minnesota to South Carolina, New Jersey and New York and have generated the hashtag #IfISeeAClown and @ClownSightings on Twitter, which has 335,000 followers.
Even the White House weighed in on the sightings. Press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in response to a question at a briefing that local police take it quite seriously.
“If anything is suspicious, anything, be it somebody verbally or physically acting menacing in any type of costume, notify the police right away,” said Capt. Laurence Martin of the Wayne Police Department in New Jersey, which responded to a report of a clown sighting last week.