Clown sightings reported in county

A “creepy clown” craze sweeping through the country made its way into Monroe County last week, prompting the local sheriff to warn of the dangers of this type of behavior.

Nationwide, people in several states have reported seeing creepy clowns roaming around. Some have reportedly tried to lure women and children into the woods, while others have made direct threats to schools and college campuses.

Columbia police received a report from a passerby about 8:45 p.m. Saturday of five subjects dressed as clowns inside a red car in the Columbia McDonald’s parking lot, possibly carrying fake plastic knives.

A responding police officer talked to McDonald’s employees, who said those dressed as clowns appeared to be small children and they did not observe any plastic knives.

Police were unable to locate the vehicle.

About 1 p.m. Friday, Columbia police were called to the area of the St. Paul Lutheran Church cemetery near Columbia Middle School after children claimed to have seen a clown walking in the area. The children later told police they were not sure if they had seen a clown or not.

About 11 p.m. Thursday, Waterloo police responded to the area of Konarcik Park after a passing motorist said they observed a person dressed as a clown stepping out in front of vehicles near the park. Police were unable to locate the clown.

Late last Tuesday afternoon, Waterloo police were called to the area of Steining Street for a report of a clown seen walking in the neighborhood.

Police questioned the validity of this clown sighting, chalking it up to possible childhood imagination.

Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing addressed the local clown sightings in a Sunday post on the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department page on Facebook.

“For one, you can be arrested for doing this and I can assure you if the sheriff’s department has to respond to a call regarding you dressed like a clown chasing people, then you will go to jail,” his post stated. “You might also want to consider that the state of Illinois allows residents to carry firearms with a permit to protect themselves and their families. Think for a minute what the outcome could be if you decided to chase some kids dressed as a clown and you are carrying a fake weapon. If a parent of these kids has a (concealed carry permit) and feels you are an imminent threat to their life then this could end poorly for you.

“(The) moral of the story is do not act like a clown or you will go to jail or could be injured yourself.”

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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