Creepy clowns are terrorizing the California communities of Wasco, Delano and Bakersfield, as armed copycats add a sinister spin to a fun-loving social media experiment.
Here’s what you need to know about the “Wasco Clown” and why some local police are going along with the fun while others are cracking down and even making arrests.
1. ‘Wasco Clown’ Started as a Photo Project by the Clown’s Wife
In the past week photos of a creepy clown posing at locations in and around Wasco, California, began making the rounds on the Internet. Looking something like Pennywise from Stephen King’s It, the so-called Wasco Clown’ exploits are chronicled on Instagram and on a Facebook tribute page.
Kern Golden Empire reports it has interviewed the clown himself and unmasked his mystery:
An interview with the Wasco clown, who requested to remain annonymous, revealed that the social media postings are part of a year-long photography project conducted by his wife.
The couple will be posting the pictures from their photoshoot every day this month.
2. ‘Copycats’ Are Wielding Weapons & Ruining the Fun
What started as a humorous photo project because a viral trend and then turned ugly, as copycats wielding gave the Wasco Clown a bad name.
LA Times reports that, as of last Friday, “Bakersfield police had fielded 16 reports of clowns wielding weapons.”
Startled bystanders have reported scary clowns wielding baseball bats, machetes and even guns.
WTVB quotes Bakersfield Police Lieutenant Jason Matson: “We’ve been having sightings all over the city. They range from anywhere from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses.”
Bakersfield Now reports the original Wasco Clown says he “has not chased anyone nor threatened anyone or any of the bad things that are being said about what copycats are doing.”
3. Cops Arrested a 14-Year-Old Kid for Scaring Other Kids
As evidence that Bakerfield cops aren’t taking the prank lightly, last they busted a 14-year-old kid in a clown suit for chasing children. The juvenile was not wielding a weapon but did freak out his “victims.” From a press release on the department’s Facebook account:
The juvenile [victim] was clearly scared as a result of being chased by the clown. … The juvenile suspect admitted to chasing the younger juveniles while dressed as a clown. The suspect said he did it to perpetuate the hoax he had seen online.
4. A Similar Case of Clown Terror Gripped England Last Year
Northampton, England, last year was plagued by sightings of a scary clown with red hair and white makeup. Like the Wasco Clown, the Northampton Clown developed a following and became a social media phenomenon.
5. Fear of Clowns Is an Actual Thing
An article last year in Smithsonian Magazine delved deep into the “History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary” — an unofficial condition dubbed coulrophobia. According to Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, an expert psychologist in the area of phobias and anxiety treatment who is quoted in the article:
… perhaps as much as 2 percent of the adult population will have a fear of clowns. Adult clown phobics are unsettled by the clown’s face-paint and the inability to read genuine emotion on a clown’s face, as well as the perception that clowns are able to engage in manic behavior, often without consequences.