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Target pulls clown masks after weird sightings across U.S.

Clowns are no laughing matter for Target. 

The retail store has decided to pull all creepy clown masks from its stores and from its website due to the “current environment” surrounding clowns.  

Creepy clown "sightings" spreading nationwide fuels panic

“We have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” Joshua Thomas, spokesperson for Target, told CBS News in a statement. 

This decision comes after a spike in reports of creepy clown sightings across the U.S. Going back to late August, there have been dozens of reports of threatening clowns, largely centered around schools and colleges, CBS News correspondent Don Dahler previously reported.

Police in several states have been responding to threats and pranks involving people wearing clown masks.

Many have been dismissed by law enforcement as pranks, but more than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the sightings. 

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old in California was arrested when he threatened a middle and high school on an Instagram page called “Fontana’s Killer Clowns.” Police said the teen wanted to scare people and gain social media followers.

“We’ve heard that people were going to show up on campus but we haven’t seen anything,” said one student.

Creepy clown craze raising concerns

Police in Connecticut dealt with a similar social media threat targeting several schools in the New Haven area. While officials dismissed it as a hoax, they’re still taking it seriously.

“At this time we are considering this to be nothing more than a prank and harassment fueled by social media (with) upcoming Halloween. Working with the police department and our own security team, we have no evidence that there is a credible threat to students or schools in the district,” said Garth Harries, superintendent of New Haven public schools. 

It appears to have been much more than a scare near San Francisco earlier this month. A mother said she fought off a person dressed as a clown, who grabbed her one-year-old daughter.

“I thought he was going to kiss her hand. Instead, he pulled her arm literally, so I pulled her arm back and I kicked him,” said Tiffany Martin.

The phenomenon started in late August, when children in South Carolina reported seeing a clown beckoning them into the woods. But those sightings were never confirmed.