MASON COUNTY, W.Va. — The national trend of creepy clown sightings has made its way to Mason County, W.Va.
These local clown sightings were first reported by the Mason Deputies Facebook page last week. Though there were reports of s0me people being followed and chased by clowns, there have been no reports of assaults or attacks, according to the deputies page.
On Tuesday, Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers said at this time these so called “clown sightings” have not been verified, only called in and there have been no arrests or citations issued. At least one clown was reported in the Tribble Road area.
Powers said the West Virginia Code actually does address the wearing of masks, hoods or face coverings and though being in violation of this code is a misdemeanor, other charges could arise as a result of this behavior. For example, if someone dressed as a clown is carrying a weapon or inciting panic, more serious charges and consequences could happen, even amid what could be intended as a prank.
Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said on Wednesday that his office had not received any reports of clown sightings.
This week, multiple media outlets in Southern California reported a man allegedly fired a warning shot at a creepy clown.
“My biggest concern, and the concern of my deputies, is the safety of people,” Powers said, adding he doesn’t want any harm to come to anyone, clown or otherwise.
According to the Mason County sheriff’s department, the state code dealing with the wearing of masks, hoods or face coverings is 61-6-22 and reads as follows:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person, whether in a motor vehicle or otherwise, while wearing any mask, hood or device whereby any portion of the face is so covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, may:
(1) Come into or appear upon any walk, alley, street, road, highway or other thoroughfare dedicated to public use;
(2) Come into or appear in any trading area, concourse, waiting room, lobby or foyer open to, used by or frequented by the general public;
(3) Come into or appear upon or within any of the grounds or buildings owned, leased, maintained or operated by the state or any political subdivision thereof;
(4) Ask, request, or demand entrance or admission to the premises, enclosure, dwelling or place of business of any other person within this state; or
(5) Attend or participate in any meeting upon private property of another unless written permission for such meeting has first been obtained from the owner or occupant thereof.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to any person:
(1) Under sixteen years of age;
(2) Wearing a traditional holiday costume;
(3) Engaged in a trade or employment where a mask, hood or device is worn for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety of the wearer;
(4) Using a mask, hood or device in theatrical productions, including use in mardi gras celebrations or similar masquerade balls;
(5) Wearing a mask, hood or device prescribed for civil defense drills, exercises or emergencies; or
(6) Wearing a mask, hood or device for the sole purpose of protection from the elements or while participating in a winter sport.
(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
In Ohio, Ohio Revised Code does not directly address masks, but disguises. ORC 3761.12 states, “No person shall unite with two or more others to commit a misdemeanor while wearing white caps, masks, or other disguise.” The law went into effect in October 1953.
Also this week, multiple national media outlets reported Target was pulling some clown masks from shelves and online, after a rash of menacing clown sightings around the country.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.