BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Every Halloween, a new craze emerges with the intent to add more fear to what the holiday already represents. In the past, the holiday has been synonymous with gang initiation day, has caused stereotypical controversy with some of its costumes and has become hazardous for children because of people tending to spike candy with drugs. However, this year is different. This year we have clowns – creepy clowns.
The first clown sighting took place in South Carolina this August at the Fleetwood Manor Apartment complex when children began to say that they had seen someone dressed as a clown trying to lure them into the woods. The clown sightings within that complex increased since the first report. That complex was not the only one in Greenville, SC that had creepy clown sightings; other nearby complexes reported sightings too.
Since then, there have been clown sightings in over 10 states in the United States, alongside several sightings in the United Kingdom.
While these clowns have reportedly tried to lure both children and women into the woods, have chased people with terrorizing weapons and have taunted people from their cars, those that live in the areas that have not heard of any clown sightings seem to not care much about this trend. That is until it hits home, which it has here in Queens.
On Oct. 3, East Elmhurst resident Ioannis Markesinis was the first to report a clown sighting in Queens when he looked out his window, only to see a bozo holding a knife, gesturing for Markesinis to come outside.
“Before I go to bed, I look out my window to see if everything’s all right outside,” said Markesinis. “All of a sudden, I see this tall shape, around 6 feet, standing at a telephone pole. He comes closer to me, into the light, and he starts waving to me. I was like, ‘Should I go out?’ And I said, no. Let me not go out. Then I saw the knife and that’s it. The cops came two, three minutes later.”
According to Markesinis, the wannabe clown was serious when telling him to “come outside.” However, when bozo pulled the steak knife out from his pocket, he began to laugh. Which is when Markesinis slammed his window shut and dialed 911.
That was the only time an actual clown sighting has been reported in Queens. However, so far, it seems that the craze is mostly targeting children.
On Oct. 2, someone posing under the name Billy Clownsmith on Facebook threatened students and faculty at Francis Lewis High School and Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside in a post that read: “Coming to Kill y’all on Wednesday. Can’t wait to have fun.”
Shortly after, another Facebook post from a user by the name of Stephen Kingclown threated Hillcrest High School and Jamaica High School in a post that read: “Hillcrest? I will put a bomb of course. Next is Jamaica High School. Get ya a** ready no joke. I might do it.”
Last Thursday, Maspeth High School and I.S. 73 were victims of a clown social media threat via Instagram that read: “Repeat if you want to live. I pray for the people that will die in the clown attack on Friday in these schools — IS 73, Maspeth High. RIP.”
“Our students’ safety is of the utmost concern, and it’s reckless for people to make baseless threats that greatly affect our school communities,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth). “My thanks to the 104th Precinct and our school officials who work every day to keep our children safe.”
Elected officials, school faculty, the NYPD and the Department of Education are working together and paying close attention to the threats.
“The NYPD was immediately notified and determined the threats were not credible,” said Toya Holness, a spokesperson for the Department of Education. “We will continue working closely with the NYPD to ensure the safety and security of all school buildings.”
Immediately following the social media clown threats, the New York City Police Department held a press conference at their headquarters.
“There have been attempts to make threats over social media involving clowns in New York City, but our people that deal with the threat world every day have found none of these to be credible,” said Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism John Miller.
During the press conference, they informed the public that they are expecting the creepy clown sightings and threats to increase up to Halloween night.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org