PALM BAY, Fla. – Kelly Reynolds was walking her pit bull at dusk Sunday when her dog began to growl in the direction of the railroad tracks. She turned toward a wooded area and looked but what she saw startled her, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
“I saw them…two clowns just sitting there staring at me,” said the 41-year-old Palm Bay resident, who was out for her nightly walk about 7:30 p.m. Sunday near Victoria Park near U.S. 1.
“I never run but I turned and ran back to my home as fast as I can. These clowns have to go away,” said Reynolds, who called Palm Bay Police after the incident. Police issued an alert to surrounding agencies and searched the wooded areas and railroad tracks near U.S. 1. The clowns were not located..
The frightening account of the two, creepy clowns decked in hobo-style clothes and what Reynolds called ‘funky’ black hats, is one of the first sightings to be reported to police in Brevard County. Others have been reported in social media. So far, police have not confirmed any of the sightings.
Already, similar encounters of costumed clowns have been reported across the U.S., from Kentucky to Florida. Some of the incidents have been reported at school bus stops, along walkways and even along busy roads. In Kentucky, a 20-year-old was arrested in a clown costume after witnesses spotted him lurking near an apartment complex.
Police, however, are warning people – both clown and victim – about the dangers of the trend, which authorities have not figured out is part of some greater effort or individual pranks. Some agencies anticipate the calls will increase as Halloween approaches.
“The problem is that someone dressed like a clown could scare someone and there’s a possibility, a possibility you could end up with someone getting shot,” said Lt. Mike Bandish of the Palm Bay Police Department speaking of the incidents. “A person could think that they’re about to get robbed,” he said.
For her part, Reynolds says she has a deep fear of clowns, a phobia that experts says is more common than typically reported. “I’ve been scared of clowns since Bobo the clown,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who are scared.”