Police: Clowns with knives threatened teens in New York City, Long Island

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

NEW YORK — Clad in a multi-colored suit and wearing “large shoes” and makeup, the clown stared at the 16-year-old boy on the northbound 6 subway train as it approached the 96th Street-Lexington Avenue station Wednesday afternoon.

The teen later told police he exited the train around 1:30 p.m. and walked through the subway turnstiles, turned around, and saw the clown again.

The clown, “just pulled out a kitchen knife and stared” at the teen, he later told police. The teen fled and reported the incident to nearby officers. The clown hasn’t been found. 

It’s a story eerily similar to one reported about 25 miles away and just over an hour and a half later, in Lakeview, New York.

In that incident, a 14-year-old boy told police he had taken a shortcut through a grassey alley on his way home from school when he was approached by a man dressed as a clown, also carrying a kitchen knife.

The suspect is described as slender and about 6 feet tall. The teen told police the man was wearing a purple clown costume, a white mask and a red wig.

The incidents are the latest in a string of reports throughout the New York area and northeast, a region that is late to the trend of clown sightings and alleged hoaxes called in to police in the weeks since Aug. 21, when children in South Carolina said clowns offered them money and flashed lasers while trying to lure them into nearby woods.

But police in New York say Wednesday’s reports are being taken seriously.

“This is obviously getting our attention because it involved a knife,” said Det. Christopher Barling, of the Nassau County Police Department, which is investigating the Lakeview incident.

Police in New York City say they’re looking to charge the suspect, if he’s caught, with misdemeanor menacing.

“It’s all fun and games until it isn’t, you know?” said New York Police Detective Martin Speechley.

But with actual crime to worry about — and no actual clown-related violence having happened — it’s clear the resources police can devote to investigating the reports are limited. 

Asked if New York City detectives had contacted their Nassau County colleagues to compare notes, Speechley quipped, “Yeah, we got our inter-agency clown squad on it.”