Residents of a South Carolina town are on edge after being warned that people dressed as clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods.
“There [have] been several [conversations] and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing talking to children or trying to lure children into the woods,” read a letter sent by the property management company which owns the Fleetwood Manor apartments in Greenville.
“At no times should a child be alone at night, or walking in the roads or wooded area at night,” the property manager warned.
The company that manages the apartments did not immediately return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
However, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Master Deputy Drew Pinciaro told BuzzFeed News that deputies received a call complaining about clowns being spotted in the woods behind the apartments on Aug. 20. The caller did not want to leave their name, he said.
But one woman did file a report with the sheriff’s office on Aug. 21, explaining that two days earlier her son told her he had “seen clowns in the woods whispering and making strange noises,” read an incident report sent to BuzzFeed News with the woman’s name redacted.
The woman then went to investigate herself and “observed several clowns in the woods flashing green laser lights [who] then ran away into the woods.”
The woman’s oldest son also told a sheriff’s deputy he heard “chains and banging” at the door of the home.
Donna and James Arnold, who live in the Fleetwood Manor complex with their two sons, aged 10 and 13, told BuzzFeed News she filed the report.
“[Our children] mentioned, ‘Mama, there’s clowns out there in the woods and they’re trying to get us to come out there,’” James Arnold said. “Some had chains, some had knives, and some were holding out money, saying, ‘Come here, we’ve got candy for you,’ but they wouldn’t go.”
“It’s getting a little ridiculous. My son, he’s seen 10 at one time. It doesn’t make no sense that they would be targeting kids,” Donna Arnold said.
“I was thinking about the movie It, the Stephen King one,” she continued. “I was a little scared, but if they want to mess with me they’re messing with the wrong woman.”
An unidentified neighbor is mentioned in the sheriff’s report as having seen a clown when she was walking to her house at 2:30 a.m. in the morning of Aug. 21. “[She] saw a clown with a blinking nose, standing under a post light near the garbage dumpster area,” read the incident report. “She stated the suspect waved at her and she waved back while she made her way to her residence safely. The suspect did not approach her or harm her.”
The deputy who compiled the report also wrote that several children said they “believe the clowns stay in a house located near a pond at the end of a man-made [trail] in the woods.”
Donna Arnold described the house as “abandoned.”
The investigating deputy followed the trail and wrote of having “observed a house near a pond that was located in the area behind the apartments,” but reported “no signs of suspicious activity or characters dressed in clown attire.”
The Arnolds told BuzzFeed News they and other residents are concerned for the children’s safety.
“We talk to them constantly [about stranger danger] because this is a bad neighborhood, but nothing like this has happened,” James Arnold said. “This is one of the neighborhoods where guys are walking around carrying guns, but we’ve had no clowns before.”