Killer Clown Scare Causes Student Frenzy at Penn State, Belmont University

Students respond to sightings with flash mobs, golf club patrols

Students at Penn State and Belmont University were panicked Monday by reports of killer clowns on campus. Credit: The Orange County Register/Zuma

America's "killer clown" epidemic caused students to panic after sighting rumors spread at Pennsylvania State University and Nashville's Belmont University.

Late Monday night, the social media rumor mill compelled at least 500 Penn State students to storm the streets in search of a clown, according to the Centre Daily Times. In various videos, members of the impromptu search party can be heard chanting, "Fuck the clown" and "We are Penn State," while others scaled trees and other structures for a better vantage point.

"If there were any clowns with this many students out there and with our police responding to calls, we would have ran into it," said Penn State police Sgt. Mike Nelson. According to police, there were no actual clown sightings — though an image of a clown was projected onto the facade of an apartment building. There were also no reports of injury, property damage or violence.

Meanwhile at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, clown sightings were reported near a dormitory Monday night, per The Tennessean. Though campus security dutifully investigated the reports, they found no evidence of any clowns and cleared the area — though apparently some students snuck back in and tried to frighten people with cackling.

Additional chatter on social media led Belmont police to patrol the campus during the night, while some students, armed with bats, were spotted monitoring the parking lots. (Coincidentally, the Insane Clown Posse is scheduled to perform in Nashville tonight, October 4th.)

The fear at Belmont was stoked by a photoshopped image of a clown on campus made by sophomore Paul Murphey and uploaded to a Belmont Facebook page. In a since-deleted (though archived) Reddit post, Murphey admitted the picture was fake, but claimed it nevertheless incited some students to brandish golf clubs and investigate the building in question.

"I severely underestimated the power of hysteria and it quickly got out of hand," Murphey said, "I sincerely apologize to anyone who was made uncomfortable or otherwise affected by the reports spawned as a result of my mistake."

The growing national obsession with killer clowns reportedly began after a sighting in Greenville County, South Carolina on August 21st. While police uncovered no evidence of any clowns, more reports surfaced a week later and soon the pandemic had spread to multiple states and cities. 

Clowns have been spotted lurking in woods from South Carolina to upstate New York. Find out more about the hoax sweeping America.