Gatineau police investigate after creepy clowns terrify children in park

Police are investigating after two teenagers dressed as clowns frightened children in Gatineau's Parc Limbour on Monday.

Police say it's possible teenagers were inspired by social media phenomenon

A teenager wearing a clown mask frightened children in Gatineau's Parc Limbour on Monday. (Facebook)

Police in Gatineau, Que., are investigating after two teenagers dressed as clowns scared children in a local park. 

A parent complained after two teens, one of whom was carrying a two-metre-long chain, chased children home from Parc Limbour, in northwest Gatineau, on Monday.

Caroline Saint-Pierre's 11-year-old daughter was in the park with a group of friends, including a five-year-old, when the incident happened.

The clowns followed them through the park and when the kids started to run, they ran after them.- Caroline Saint-Pierre, parent

"The clowns followed them through the park and when the kids started to run, they ran after them," she said.

Saint-Pierre's daughter ran all the way home. When Saint-Pierre confronted one teenage clown and asked him why he was scaring children, she got no answer.

"He didn't reply. He was mute," Saint-Pierre said, speaking in French in an interview with Radio-Canada. 

Gatineau police say they are taking the incident very seriously, but that no charges will be laid against the teens, a boy and a girl, because they found no criminal intent. 

Prank 'not acceptable,' police say

"This is not acceptable," said Gatineau police spokesman Pierre Lanthier.

He fears that what might start as teenagers clowning around could escalate. "You never know what could happen in a case like this. Some members of the public might take this very seriously, involving violence."

Lanthier says it is possible the teens were inspired by similar pranks appearing on social media sites around the world. Sightings of scary clowns have gone viral in the U.S., England, France and Australia.
Images of a clown seen carrying black balloons in Green Bay, Wis., went viral around the world. Filmmaker Adam Krause later admitted it was part of a marketing campaign for a short horror film. (Facebook)

Earlier this week, it was revealed that a man seen walking around the streets of Green Bay, Wis., wearing a filthy clown suit and carrying four black balloons was taking part in a publicity stunt for a short film. News about "Gags the Green Bay Clown" was reported around the world.

One headline in the New York Post summed it up neatly: "This creepy clown is freaking everyone out." 

An Italian YouTube channel, DM Pranks, has garnered hundreds of millions of hits by featuring short films that show menacing clowns behaving strangely or bludgeoning stuffed dummies — just as unsuspecting members of the public walk by. In some clips, the clowns then chase the terrified witnesses. 

Last month, the first images of the remake of Stephen King's It were released. The film features Pennywise, an evil clown who is played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard in the remake. It's not clear whether the advanced publicity has also helped to inspire the recent spate of clown pranks. 

Two years ago in France, police arrested 14 teenagers who were dressed as clowns and carrying weapons. In a separate incident, a 19-year-old was charged by French police for threatening passers-by while wearing a clown costume.
Italian trickster Matteo Moroni is the filmmaker behind the hit viral YouTube channel DM Pranks. In this picture a creepy clown stares at a driver after pouring a liquid around his car. (YouTube)