Police in Bakersfield, California, say they have received dozens of calls from people reporting creepy clowns around town. So far they've caught only one suspect.
The latest call came shortly before 8 p.m. on Saturday, when Bakersfield police officers "responded to a report of a person in a clown suit holding a firearm."
"We've had multiple [reports] of these clown sightings all over town," Bakersfield Police Lt. Jason Matson told the Bakersfield Californian. "He was gone by the time we arrived."
Matson told Reuters the sightings range "from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses."
On Friday, Bakersfield police had received 16 reports of clowns wielding weapons as of midday, Fox News reported.
Last week, a 14-year-old boy had dressed up as a clown to scare younger children. One child "was clearly scared as a result of being chased by the clown," Bakersfield police told KBAK-TV.
The suspect told police he did it to "perpetuate a sinister clown hoax" he had seen online. It appears the hoaxster has inspired copycat clowns.
"No laughing matter," reads the headline on KFOR.com. "Creepy clowns terrorize city."
“We will make arrests on this,” Bakersfield Police Sgt. Joseph Grubbs told the Los Angeles Times. “We want this to stop.”
But not everyone wants it to.
“Some of the residents go in cars searching for him," Noah Sanchez told KFOR. “It’s kind of fun, though, to get us in the Halloween spirit and all of us in the community."
This isn't the first time a mysterious clown has cropped up in an American community.
Earlier this year, residents on Staten Island reported seeing a silent clown — loosely resembling the Pennywise character from the Stephen King book “It” — throughout the borough holding a bouquet of balloons and waving at passers-by.
"He was just kind of standing there waving," Vincent Innocente told the Staten Island Advance in March.
"I'm a little freaked out right now," Michael Leavy wrote on Instagram. "I was driving home from Buffalo Wild Wings and saw this waving at me. #wtf ... is this real life?"
It turned out the clown was part of a viral marketing stunt by a Staten Island film company.
Last fall, a British film student spooked a town in England for weeks before he was unmasked by a local newspaper.