Target pulls clown masks from shelves weeks before Halloween

(Target logo: AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Clown: AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two weeks before Halloween, Target is pulling clown costumes from shelves. The national retailer announced they were pulling clown costumes from stores and online in wake of the clown hysteria that has swept the nation in recent months.

“We had a few masks in stores, which we began to pull last week,” a media representative of Target told ABC News. “We also have edited down our assortment online. You’ll still find clown masks there, but we made the decision to pull back on the number.”

Target didn’t say which masks they pulled. Some masks were still available at on Monday.

“Given the current environment,” Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said, “we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online.”

While Target is pulling the masks, other stores say that the clown costumes are now more popular than ever. The store Halloween Express has reported that clown costume sales are up 200 percent this season

In Tennessee, students in Claiborne and Anderson counties were charged with making threats on social media after police said they made posts about clowns coming to do harm at school. Knoxville Police Department addressed the clown hype on social media, saying they take all threats seriously and will investigate any reported sightings, but say at this point it is all rumor and there are no clowns. Tennessee Highway Patrol issued a warning for people to “watch for clown” in their area because they could be “child predators.”

In Middle Tennessee, a man called emergency dispatchers’ non-emergency line and identified himself as a clown who has been threatening children. Coffee County deputies said the man became lewd and told the dispatcher he was going to harm children.

In Middlesboro, Kentucky a man was arrested for causing “public alarm.” in a clown costume. Jonathan Martin, 20, faces charges of disorderly conduct, wearing a hood or mask in a public place, as well as two outstanding warrants for non-payment of fines and failure to appear in court.

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