Creepy clown spotted on Aberdeen causes student concern

Kingston Police urges students to remain rational with Halloween approaching 

A photo of a clown spotted on Aberdeen was posted to Facebook this Wednesday.
Supplied by Vibhor Mathur

Just after midnight on Oct. 13, Queen’s student Vibhor Mathur walked onto Aberdeen St. and was confronted with a sight that caused a slight stir on Facebook later that night. 

“I was walking through the alley between Brock and Aberdeen, and once I was crossing the street I just saw this clown,” Mathur, ArtSci ’17, told The Journal. “As silly as it sounds.” 

He promptly posted a photo on the Overheard at Queen’s Facebook page that, despite the late hour, garnered over 1.8 thousand reactions. 

In recent weeks, news coverage throughout Canada and the United States have reported criminal activities associated with individuals in clown costumes. 

Student commentary beneath the post expressed fears about the phenomenon reaching Kingston. 

“I was a bit shaken up in the moment, so I guess my first thought was to grab a picture and literally turn around,” he said. He felt the individual was appearing to advance towards him. 

“Right after I took the photo he kind of like, looked over at me and kind of started walking my way … and then I just immediately turned around and ran away,” he said, later clarifying. “Not ran away, but walked away.”

Upon reaching his home and posting his evidence of the encounter online, he told The Journal that he began receiving worried messages from fellow students. “A lot of people were scared,” he said. 

In response, Kingston Police were called on-scene.

When The Journal spoke with Kingston Police Const. Steve Koopman the next day, he didn’t disguise his impatience with the rising trend, especially since it moved north of the border.

“We did get a report of a sighting at Johnson and Aberdeen at 12:20 [a.m.], and the clown was gone on arrival. No one was found. The clown mysteriously disappeared,” he said.

While the claim bore resemblance to a scene from the 1990 film It, Koopman noted that “there’s been no homicides due to clowns as far as I’m aware of at this point.” He urges students to think twice before getting the police involved in similar situations.

“It is not an offense to dress as a clown, no matter what time of the year,” he reminded students. As Halloween approaches, he said the police force is aware of the anxieties around the costume.

“We’re aware of other internet memes, rumors and myths, about people being scared for their safety and of clowns,” he said. However, students should use discretion when reporting a possible threat.

“If someone were to report a clown or someone dressed as one committing an assault, threats, harassment, or trespassing, then these are all offences we’ll happily investigate, regardless of their manner of dress.”

With Halloween fast approaching and clown-related instances in the US gaining more media attention every day, Koopman is aware that calls of this nature have the possibility of increasing.

“We want to make sure people aren’t scared. We’re understanding that people seem to have a bit of a phobia in relation to clowns but at this time too, it’s not a high priority for us because most of this is driven by internet perpetuation,” he said.

“It’s not the end of the world, I just feel that if people can avoid [calling the police] then it creates a lot less stress not only on citizens but also on our front line response.”

For Koopman, the trend has gotten a bit out of hand. “Some people are asking me ‘are clowns real?’ the answer is yes, clowns are real. That doesn’t mean that they’re committing any criminal offences.”

He urged students to put the clown-trend in perspective. “There are more important things in this world. Syria. Donald Trump.”

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