CREEPY TREND: Clown sightings in the Ozarks

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A new, creepy trend has popped up just in time for Halloween.
People are reporting clown sightings all over the country, and some people even claim the clowns are committing crimes.
Now that trend has made its way to the Ozarks.
Police say wearing a scary mask is not against the law and likely won’t get you in trouble with the cops, but you could still run into some problems.
“They should think twice about it,” said Republic Police Chief Mike Lawton.
He says last week a driver reported seeing a clown in the middle of Republic Road by Republic High School.
“In the dark, all of the sudden, a clown was standing in the middle of the road in front of them. Obviously, it scared them,” he explained.
He says police didn’t find the clown, and he doesn’t think clowns are a threat to the public. But he does have some safety concerns.
Lawton said, “A motorist may panic, and lose control of the vehicle.”
Lawton also says a clown could end up getting assaulted if they scare someone.
“It’s likely done to provoke a confrontation, and if you just continue to drive on, or move on, likely you’ll be safe,” he said.
In Rolla, Detective Adam Meyer says the police department has received several reports of clown sightings, even a report of an assault by a clown. But after investigating he learned the reports are false, and the only actual sighting was a prank. Meyer says a group of friends decided to play a prank on a woman, so one friend put on a scary clown mask, and another shot footage of him walking around a park.
“They were just trying to scare the girlfriend, is what it basically boiled down to,” Meyer said.
Professional clowns certainly aren’t laughing at these pranks.
“We’re out here trying to make people happy, and then other people are trying to take it in the wrong direction… In an evil direction,” said Spangle the Clown.
He says he’s been spreading joy in Springfield for years. He even legally changed his name to reflect his profession. Today, he skipped the makeup while he made balloon animals for kids in a Walmart.
He says clowns like himself are getting a bad rap because of this frightening trend. He says some people are even threatening clowns online.
“I’ve had friends that are threatened, and even their children that are clowns are being threatened,” said Clown.
He says he hopes the trend dies out sooner rather than later.
“That is not funny. You’re affecting other people’s livelihood,” he said, “It’s just wrong. It’s not what clowns do.”
With Halloween several weeks away, police say they expect this prank to get worse before it gets better. They say if a clown is out doing something suspicious, call 911 immediately.