On Friday, Sept. 30, at 11:45 p.m., a clown was sighted. The clown was said to be by the fountain on campus. A student reported the incident.
“Officers were dispatched and did not find anything,” said Mercyhurst Police and Safety Chief Donald Furhmann.
Mercyhurst Police and Safety take their calls very seriously.
“There was no description of the mask or any clothing,” Furhmann said.
Students were very concerned when word spread about the sighting.
“Honestly the sighting really incited some panic in the freshmen dorms. I saw a suspicious white truck pull away as we walked up to it and we believed it was the one with the clown in it,” L.J. Yurick, residence assistant, said.
Mercyhurst reviewed all their security footage of the area and did not find any images of a clown.
“I know the city has had a few sightings, and Millcreek,” Furhmann said.
Yurick spoke of another clown sighting that was not reported to Mercyhurst Police and Safety.
“Girls in Warde had someone in a clown mask outside their window, supposedly. Both of the instances we’ve had, the clowns have tried to scare female residents going up to their window if they live on the first floor or scaring them as they walk by Garvey Park. It’s very unnerving,” said Yurick.
It’s hard to tell if these instances are from malicious individuals or perhaps students preying on current events and looking for a scare.
“If someone is in Munson Plaza dressed as a clown, we will investigate it,” said Furhmann.
Erie is actually home to a clown college, Erie Clowns Inc., that began in 1968. It is an eight-week program that teaches the basic skills of clowning, including make-up application. They sponsored a clown convention in April 2015.
“It’s not illegal to merely appear in public in costume. Unless there is a criminal activity associated with it, it is merely appearing in public in costume,” Furhmann said.
Most clowns by profession are harmless. However, this spark of clown-related incidents across the world is making even former clown lovers on edge. Some people do have a legitimate fear of clowns, called coulrophobia.
“It’s now a national hysteria,” said Furhmann.
Facebook seems to be littered with posts of clown sightings and the social media app, Vine, covered in videos. It is difficult to ascertain the validity of these videos and posts.
According to the International Business Times, there are clown sightings in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia beginning as early as Aug. 1, in Wisconsin.
Residents in North and South Carolina report the clowns attempted to lure children into the woods. Clowns have also reportedly chased children and robbed fast food restaurants.