Several individuals wearing clown masks have been spotted across John Brown University’s campus in early October following the recent trend of clown sightings around the United States.
The sightings took place at various locations such as the Dogwood Trail near Hutcheson Hall, the intermural fields, and near Balzar Technology Center.
On Tuesday evening, a clown sighting at the Dogwood Trail was posted to the JBU Facebook page, Overheard at JBU.
According to Scott Wanzer, the campus safety director, campus safety officers followed up with the clown sighting, searching for witnesses or any information.
They called the Siloam police department to see whether they had dealt with any similar incidents. While there were multiple references on social media, the officers didn’t find anything that night.
The next evening, during the SGA bonfire near the intermural fields, Campo received several calls of a clown sighting.
Julie Snively, a sophomore nursing student, present at the Student Government Association bonfire, noticed a teenage male in the parking lot wearing a black tee-shirt and cargo shorts putting on and taking off a rubber clown mask. Two other maskless male teens were with him, but stood several feet away.
Thinking his behavior strange, Snively and several others called Campo and told them of the situation. Campo and the Siloam police arrived shortly after, interviewed the suspects, and released them.
Leanna Ngo, a senior engineering student, saw the clown earlier Wednesday evening before the bonfire when she and her boyfriend stopped at the intersection of North Holly Street and West University Street.
They noticed a man on a motorcycle wearing normal clothes and a “creepy clown mask” who drove past them and cackled in their direction. Ngo and her boyfriend tried to follow the clown, but lost sight of him.
On Thursday evening around 9 p.m., another clown was seen around Balzar Technology Center by a student jogging. The student wasn’t alarmed and didn’t report the incident until the next morning.
Wanzer said to pay attention to an individual’s behavior as well as their appearance.
He stressed the importance of constant vigilance to the trail users and students.
“This is all about awareness,” Wanzer said. “About awareness of my surroundings of the trail. It’s about awareness in the Wal-Mart parking lot, walking down Main street sidewalk. The principle is the same 24/7. I need to be aware of my surroundings to pay attention or take active steps if appropriate.”
Wanzer encouraged trail users to have a friend with them at all times as a precaution since “there is safety in numbers.” He said that if a trail user comes across a suspicious individual, it is best to directly address that person and keep constant eye contact.
Wanzer does not think the recent events are of any immediate threat to the JBU community, believing that the masked individuals simply want to provoke an emotional reaction.
However, Wanzer stressed that he and all campus security offices are and will be constantly vigilant in their duties to protect the student body.