Two separate alleged clown hoaxes and pranks have prompted warnings from Southern California law enforcement agencies this week.
The latest advisory was issued by Fontana police on Wednesday morning after the agency received multiple reports of people dressed as clowns making threats against citizens on the heels of similar incidents nationwide.
The situation was being monitored, and by Wednesday afternoon, an arrest was made in the case, according to the Fontana Police Department. A 14-year-old, identified as “Fontana Killer Clown” on social media, was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats, police said.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also warned of a new “prank” in Lancaster involving a group of males wearing clown masks who are possibly armed with kitchen knives. In three separate instances, the group went up to pedestrians and attempted to “scare” them, according to a sheriff’s news release.
Additionally, the department has received reports of online videos that utilize “scare tactic” style, the release stated.
Several Los Angeles Unified School District schools “have fielded calls from concerned parents regarding social media reports of individuals with a clown persona committing potential acts of violence,” L.A. Unified School Police Chief Steven Zipperman said in a statement.
He added that the issue at LAUSD has been “deemed a hoax,” though the district will continue to investigate the reports.
The incidents are just the latest in a string of clown sightings that have recently prompted concern and warnings around the country, even though many of them later turned out to be hoaxes.
In some instances, pranksters have been arrested for making social media threats as clowns, including two 15-year-olds from Michigan.
A teen in Hampton, Virginia, was also arrested recently for trying to hire a clown to kill her teacher.
One school district in Ohio was even closed for a day last week after a woman reported being attacked by a clown. That woman has since been charged with lying about the attack because she was late for work.
Clown scares have also been reported in Connecticut, with two 13-year-old girls charged with making some of the threats, according to KTLA sister WTIC in Hartford.
In another hoax reported Tuesday night, a student with the Twitter handle “hoecus pocus” tweeted a photo that seemingly showed a creepy clown on the Michigan State University campus.
Her next tweet acknowledges that she “photoshopped” the clown into the picture, but chaos was reigning on the floor of her dorm already and her Resident Assistant had called police, WTIC reported.
She ended up having to talk to police.
With Halloween just weeks away, the trend may not be going away anytime soon, as sales of clown costumes are reported to be up 300 percent over a year ago.
Stephen King, author of “It” — which featured a creepy clown preying on children — and several other horror novels, took to Twitter this week to suggest that maybe people should “cool” it.
Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 3, 2016
Other “real” clowns say they are losing business because of the hoaxes, and that they are the “real” victims.