Miami U. police: Clown social media rumors ‘off the rails’

OXFORD — University campuses are no exception to the clown craze hitting the nation.

Miami University police Chief John McCandless said there have been a lot of clown rumors flying around campus on social media outlets of Twitter and Yik Yak, including clown sightings, a clown chasing someone with a knife and a dorm being on lock down.

“There was a bunch of information out there on social sites that wasn’t accurate or true,” McCandless said. “Things got off the rails.”

The university police investigated Monday night and nothing was true.

“We found a lot of people looking for clowns,” McCandless said, but no actual clowns. “Nationally it’s gotten a bit out of control.”

The University of Dayton spokeswoman Cilla Shindell said there was one report of a person in a clown mask on the campus that was investigated and no threat was found.

“… A photo circulating on social media that purports to show a person in a clown mask in the student neighborhood at night appears to be photo-edited by imposing an image from somewhere else on a picture of one of our streets,” said UD police Chief Rodney Chatman. “I am concerned rumors and distress are creating an environment that could pose a risk to our community.”

Miami University also issued a notice on its intranet site to the student body and employees to let them know the rumors were all false.

“Despite a number of recent, unsubstantiated rumors, Miami University and Oxford Police have no evidence suggesting any threat to the public related to people dressed as clowns,” the notice begins. “The nationwide phenomenon of people dressing as clowns to scare others in public has quickly swelled to inhabit rumor mills on campuses, including Miami’s.”

McCandless said his office has fielded some phone calls from concerned parents and people relaying second- and third-hand information.

“We don’t want anyone to be frightened; it isn’t any fun being scared,” McCandless said.

He believes it may only “intensify” as Halloween nears.

The university notice also cited its emergency notification system, including text alerts, that is used in the event of imminent danger.


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