The creepy clown hysteria frightening America has made its way to Long Island.
Suffolk County police received reports Wednesday of a dastardly group of clowns jumping in front of cars in Brentwood, and a separate incident in which a person dressed as a clown was spotted in North Babylon.
And Friday morning, two Long Island school districts initiated “lockout” procedures after clown-related social media threats that were later unsubstantiated.
“The Suffolk County Police Department has received reports related to people wearing clown costumes while acting in a menacing manner,” Stu Cameron, SCPD Chief of Department, said in a statement Friday. “The department has not confirmed any of these reports and our officers have not personally witnessed any individual wearing a clown costume.
“We understand this may be a social media prank throughout the country, but we take quite seriously all calls that involve intentional harassment, trespassing, disturbing of the peace, and reported activity that results in the citizens of our county feeling threatened,” he continued.
North Babylon School District said its high school was placed on “lockout” following “clown-related social media threats made by an unknown person or persons.” An investigation by Suffolk police found no threat to the school and the campus was deemed safe, prompting school officials to lift the lockout at 10:45 a.m.
The Central Islip School District also initiated lockout protocols in response to an apparent threat.
“In an abundance of caution, the Central Islip School District instituted a lockout,” Central Islip School District Superintendent Dr. Howard M. Koeing said in a statement. “After conversations with Suffolk County Police Department representatives, we were assured there is no imminent threat, and the lockout is canceled.”
Long Island can now add its communities to a growing list of neighborhoods across the country that since August have been bedeviled by reports of people either dressed as clowns or reporting false sightings for their amusement.
There’s been reports of menacing clowns in at least eight states: Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to The New York Times.
The alleged sightings have led to at least a dozen arrests nationwide, the Times reported, for various violations, ranging from making false reports to making terroristic threats.
“We wanted to make an example and crack down on clown-related activity in our city,” the police chief of a local Alabama community said in response to the charges brought against seven clowns.
Authorities have yet to uncover a motive for the spate of clown sightings, though there have been arrests for people falsely reporting clowns in the area. Suffolk County police are closely monitoring all social media channels and calls made to the department, SCPD’s Cameron said.
Several run-ins with the ominous clowns read like outtakes from the terrifying movie It, based off master horror wizard Stephen King’s 1986 supernatural classic—skin-crawling. In South Carolina, there were reports of clowns in the woods attempting to lure children. In another sighting, a woman said she saw a clown with a blinking nose standing under a light post near a dumpster.
Some of the sightings, however, appeared to have been hoaxes. Earlier this month in Georgia, police received a call of a clown near a white van. When cops arrived, they discovered the driver had run out of gas. A search of the van found no clown costumes, police said.
The initial 911 call turned out to be a prank.
The caller told investigators that “he did not see any clowns…and had just made it up and that he was aware of all the complaints about clowns and the schools being on lock down.”
The 26-year-old man and his sister were charged with obstruction and unlawful conduct.
As for the purported Suffolk sightings, police warned residents that there would repercussions for false reports.
“While the motives of these individuals could not be determined, the Department reminds the public false reporting and intentional harassment or disturbing of the peace can lead to legal consequences,” added Cameron, SCPD’s chief of department. “Individuals engaging in this type of behavior may be subject to violations and/or misdemeanor arrest under the NYS Penal Law.”