The creepy clown craze - which started in late August with alleged sightings in South Carolina - has spread to some college campuses. Disconcerting social media posts have prompted police investigations nationwide and have even led to a forced lockdown at Merrimack College. Though many of the cases were found to be hoaxes, police are taking the incidents seriously, and so are some students who have taken to the streets to "hunt" the clowns.
At least ten states have reported clown sightings, many of which were deemed pranks and not credible. One student at Belmont University posted an image of a clown standing outside a building on campus as a joke, but when caught later, claimed he "severely underestimated the power of hysteria and how quickly [the prank] got out of hand." In Connecticut, New Haven Public Schools launched an investigation on the authenticity of numerous clown-related Instagram posts with messages such as, "If you go to Career watch out...u really think it's fake, wait and see." There was no indication that the incident posed any real or substantial New Haven Public Schools, according to a statement by officials, but the incidents are being taken "very seriously."
While the fear grows with increased sightings, some students are running toward the clowns, and not away. A mob of 500 Pennsylvania college students set out to "hunt clowns" after rumors spread that one had been spotted on campus. The group was "rioting" and chanting, "We are Penn State!" University police Sgt. Mike Nelson stated that "there were no clown sightings and no credible clown threats." Similarly, at UConn, students left their dorms in search of the clowns with golf clubs and hockey sticks in hand. However, in all of these cases, the "cause is specifically social media" and reports from third-hand reports instead of actual witnesses.
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