Clown sightings: 'Be cautious, don't panic' police say

Reality check on creepy clown sightings

ARLINGTON, VA (WUSA9) - They've been spotted all over the country, driving cars, hiding in the woods, walking along train tracks.

Friday afternoon, a so called "creepy clown" was spotted at Madison Manor Park in Arlington County, initially reported to be wielding an axe.

The axe turned out to be skateboard and the "creepy clown" were just some middle school kids playing a prank, according to Arlington County Police.

The rash of clown sightings across the country and ensuing panic is not something many parents at Madison Manor Park seem too concerned about.

"No. It's not the first thing, it's not the one hundredth thing on my radar right now," said Brian Rupert, an Arlington father of a toddler.
Sara Jones, an Arlington mother, is not panicking but she is being cautious with her children.

"I told my oldest daughter, 'Don't get too riled up about it, everything should be fine. Use street sense as always,'" said Jones.

RELATED: Clown spotted waving to cars in Arlington

Dr. Laura Saunders is a Clinical Psychologist at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. She told WUSA9's CBS affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut, that "there are individuals out there that really relish in negative attention and this is something that would really get someone a lot of negative attention."

That desired negative attention seems to come at the cost of legitimately freaking people out, mainly children.
But the threats, mostly online, that are particularly concerning. From violent threats targeting schools to a handful of reported attempted assaults, understandably, authorities are taking those seriously.

The aim is balance: not to dismiss the threats but to also not devolve into mass hysteria.

"It's a short term thing. Everybody is hopping on the bandwagon but I don't think it's anything to be afraid of," Rupert said.

This has also basically been the message from police departments around the country.

"Don't believe the hype and don't be afraid of the clowns," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller after several sightings in New York.

But police insist they're not discouraging people from calling 911 if they see something suspicious.

Be cautious, just don't panic.


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