A regular shopping trip to the mall turned scary when a student caught sight of a clown.
MaKenzi Fox, marketing freshman, saw someone wearing a clown mask at about 5 p.m. Oct. 3 as she was entering Penn Square Mall, 1901 Northwest Expressway.
“He was just driving and staring at people, trying to creep people out,” she said. “I was more scared than usual since I was alone.”
The first person to spot a creepy clown was a boy in Greenville, South Carolina, who saw the clown Aug. 29, according to The Guardian. Sightings spread across the country and now people have reported clown sightings in at least 39 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.
The happening is being referred to as the “2016 clown sightings.”
“I think the whole problem with the fad is the attention the media is giving it,” Fox said. “If the media stopped talking about it, it wouldn’t be an issue because publicizing it is making the fad grow larger.”
Bradd Brown, chief of police, said the presence of these sightings on social media drives more of it.
“Of course with Halloween coming up in about three weeks, we’re probably going to hear more and more about that,” he said. “If anyone sees anything suspicious on campus, whether it’s a clown or anything else, we encourage them to call us.”
The sale of clown masks has gone up more than 300 percent from last year, according to a USA Today interview with officials from the chain store Halloween Express.
The trend has grown so much that even White House officials weighed in.
“This is a situation that local law enforcement authorities take quite seriously and they should carefully and thoroughly review, you know, perceived threats to the safety of the community,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press conference last week.
Clown sightings have been reported all over the state in places like Moore, Tulsa, Chickasha, Wagoner, and even Oklahoma City.
“Although we are following any and all tips, reports or sightings, this appears to be a complete social media hoax and it has a lot of people scared,” said Capt. Paco Balderrama, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, in an interview with NewsOK.
Many of the first sightings were determined to be pranks, but, as sightings became more common, the clowns started getting violent.
Alejandra Santillan, cell and molecular biology junior, said she doesn’t understand the trend.
“I really don’t know their motive,” she said. “I wish I did because they are terrifying people everywhere, especially when they’re armed.”
Across the country, people have been chased and attacked, several arrests have been made and some schools have resorted to shut-downs in the wake of threats.
A clown sighting at Penn State even sent students on a hunt. Hundreds of students marched through the school with tennis rackets, baseball bats and hockey sticks ready to fight off the clown, according to OnwardState.com
There have not been any reported clown sightings on or near campus, Brown said. But Penn Square Mall is only a 10 minute drive away.
Fox said she’s glad she hasn’t seen any clowns on campus and doesn’t think she will anytime soon.
Brown said clown costumes wouldn’t be a criminal matter, but they could cause students to worry.
“It could cause some concern, which could generate a lot of calls to the police department, which we wouldn’t like,” he said. “So we would like to avoid that.”
To contact campus police, call 405-208-5911.