June 19, 2019 | 65° F

Alleged clown sightings at Rutgers alarm students on social media


Rutgers has been added to a growing list of colleges that have had alleged clown sightings in recent days, a list including Penn State University and Temple University.

Clowns were reported to be seen on both the College Avenue and the Cook/Douglass campuses by various students on social media. It is not clear whether official reports regarding the sightings were filed with the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) or the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).

Ashley Kong, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, was told by friends that there were clown sightings on multiple campuses.

"My friend texted me about a clown sighting, and she said that a guy with a clown mask on looked into the window of the (Sigma Phi Epsilon) house," she said. "And my friend told me there was allegedly a clown at Passion Puddle."

The clown sightings began in late August in Greenville County, South Carolina, The New York Times reported.

Schools within various districts in New Jersey were shut down on Friday morning when a social media post began to circulate, prompting phone calls to the districts, NJ Advance Media reported.

The post by Facebook user "Aint Clownin Around" read, "We will be at all High School this friday to either kidnapp students or kill teacherrs going to they cars ... #WeNotClowninAround," was the cause for multiple phone calls to the school districts, according to the article.

The Toms River Police Department and New York Police Department released statements indicating that there have been threats over social media, but were not credible, abc7ny.com reported.

"The initial reports seem to stem from an organized movie promotion and have now morphed into copycat reports throughout New Jersey. The recent social media posts and threats seem to originate from outside of New Jersey," the Toms River Police Department said in a statement.

Phillipsburg, New Jersey, reported four sightings in two days, NJ Advance Media reported. The clowns apparently came out of the woods and chased children — others later reported a clown chasing children while wielding a sword.

Phillipsburg Police Captain Robert Stettner told NJ Advance Media that wearing a clown mask is not illegal and discouraged people from "hunting" clowns.

"If somebody's running around with a sword, we have more of an issue," he said. "(But) people are allowed to walk around with a clown mask."

Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences junior double-majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the copy editor of The Daily Targum.

Alexandra DeMatos

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