Concerned about clown trend, some ready to pack heat on Halloween
PALM BAY, Fla. – It’s a bizarre trend that just won’t go away – the creepy clown thing. You know, individuals dressed as clowns looking to cause trouble, or just spook.
Incidents have occurred across the nation, and even here in Brevard County, we’ve had our fair share of reports of creepy clown encounters. Just this week, two men were charged by Melbourne Police after they allegedly donned clown outfits, armed themselves and chased people, making threats.
Lump that on to the five sightings reported to Palm Bay police and numerous others creating buzz on social media across Brevard. Clarissa Lancaster posted a photo on a popular Palm Bay Facebook group of a scary-looking clown peeking in the window of her home.
“I pretended I was still texting and took the pic, didn't let clown know I was taking his pic,” she said. “When I get scared I get quiet, I don't scream. I'm not afraid of clowns either, but someone looking in my house creeps me out.”
But as Halloween approaches and all kinds of characters, mostly cute ones, drift up and down neighborhood streets, some are worried about how creepy clown concerns could bleed into a night ordinarily reserved for heaping amounts of candy and harmless pranks.
Some residents say they’re nervous, others say they’ll be exercising their Second Amendment right come Halloween, News 6 partner FLORIDA TODAY reports.
“I'll be carrying for sure, I'm not leaving to chance,” said Kimberly Kersey, who will be taking her sons out trick or treating in Palm Bay. “I'm terrified of clowns already and if one messes with me or my kids it'll be to the hospital or morgue they go.”
Kersey is one of many who said they’d be armed this Halloween in Brevard.
“Since I have no gun, I will be carrying a bat around on Halloween night,” said Pam Metz of Titusville.
From a law enforcement standpoint, patrols will increase across the county on Halloween, which is standard and not impacted by the clown trend. But Sheriff Wayne Ivey warns that it’s a second-degree misdemeanor to conceal one’s identity “while having the intent to intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass any other person while being upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way,” he said citing Florida Statutes. Ivey said violating this statute, clown or otherwise, “puts everyone at risk and can be extremely dangerous,” and deputies will be on the lookout for any foul play.
Ivey said it will be important that if residents see something, they say something to law enforcement.
Palm Bay Police Lt. Mike Banish warned that fears around the creepy clown sightings could backfire on those dressing as clowns.
“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,” Bandish said. “A person could think that they’re about to get robbed."
Melbourne Police are very aware of the issue, said Cmdr. Sean Riordan, and his department is taking it seriously.
“It’s not just a matter of somebody playing a practical joke, it’s how the victim perceives that joke and it could be tragic,” he said.
This is perhaps why many parents say it’s not worth the risk to allow their children to dress up as clowns, even harmless ones.
“My 15-year-old wanted to be a clown and I told him no,” said Cassandra Closson of West Melbourne. “Just not worth any drama.”
Others said there’s seemingly an unspoken age limit this year to clown costumes.
"No to any child over age 12 dressing as a clown," suggested Kathleen Burkett of Mims.
Even Target stores have taken action against the trend. The retail chain removed all clown masks and costumes from their stores nationwide following the string of incidents reported across the U.S. Brevard Target stores followed suit.
But even so, some argue the clown trend is being blown out of proportion.
“If you give people a reaction they will play off that fear. So why run from one or pull a gun or a knife on anyone for that matter?” said Waller Connie of Palm Bay. “Look at them smile and say, ‘Hey man love the costume.’”
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