Despite the large number of rumors and posts to social media, law enforcement agencies across the county said Wednesday that they’d received no credible reports of people dressed as clowns menacing others.
“I think this is ridiculous we even have to talk about it,” Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said by phone Wednesday.
Officers and Calhoun County deputies have spent the better part of the past three days investigating reports of threats involving clowns made on social media by juveniles, they said, but dispatchers are also fielding dozens of calls from people asking about rumors they’ve heard or read.
“No one has contacted the Police Department and said ‘we’ve seen a clown,’” Piedmont police Chief Freddie Norton said Wednesday. Anniston, Oxford, Jacksonville nor the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office had received any such “credible calls” either, officials with those agencies said.
In one instance, a social media post alleged Tuesday that a woman was harassed by a teenager in a clown mask at a store in Piedmont. Norton said Tuesday night that no one had contacted the Police Department about the incident or made a report and that the store’s staff knew nothing of the incident.
Norton said police Wednesday spoke to the woman who had been shopping at the store and that she claimed to have encountered a teen dressed as a clown.
“She said she didn’t think it was a big deal,” Norton said.
Piedmont investigators viewed security video from the store Wednesday, and Norton said the alleged incident was not in view of the camera.
Assistant Chief Bill Wineman said they’ve received two reports of people seeing clowns but there was no evidence except what a witness said he’d seen in the first, while the second “was completely unfounded.”
“It is just mass hysteria,” Wineman said. “I’ve heard the reports that other departments are getting and it’s just a bunch of baloney.”
Oxford police Wednesday were investigating a social media threat made by a juvenile towards law enforcement, Partridge said, but there has been no threat to their schools or reports of people seeing clowns.
“I don’t have words to describe what I think of all this,” he said. “With all the things going on in the world, we’re worried about a bunch of clowns.”
Chief Deputy Matthew Wade with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office echoed what Norton, Wineman and Partridge said.
“Everything that we heard was that someone said that someone else saw one,” he said by phone. “We have to be careful with our communications. What people say matters, and just because it is on social media does not mean it’s true.”