- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) - Some residents unnerved by scary clown threats in their communities say they’ll be armed for Halloween trick-or-treating, while authorities warn that widespread clown fears may endanger someone dressing up as a clown as a joke.

There have been numerous clown sightings in Brevard County, and two men were arrested last week in Melbourne for allegedly threatening people while dressed as clowns and holding large bats, sticks or axes, according to a Florida Today report (https://on.flatoday.com/2emp9RG ).

The incidents have made some residents so nervous that they planned to arm themselves when they go out Halloween night.

“Since I have no gun, I will be carrying a bat around on Halloween night,” said Pam Metz of Titusville.

Kimberly Kersey said she’d carry a gun while taking her sons trick-or-treating in Palm Bay.

“I’ll be carrying for sure,” she said. “I’m terrified of clowns already and if one messes with me or my kids it’ll be to the hospital or morgue they go.”

Police typically increase patrols for Halloween. Some law enforcement officials have urged people to reconsider dressing up as clowns to avoid inadvertently endangering themselves.

“The problem is that someone dressed like a clown could scare someone and there’s a possibility - a possibility - you could end up with someone getting shot,” said Palm Bay Police Lt. Mike Bandish.

Cassandra Closson of West Melbourne gave the same advice to her 15-year-old son and forbade him from dressing as a clown.

“Just not worth any drama,” Closson told Florida Today.

In South Florida, Broward County schools prohibited clown costumes for Halloween activities, according to a Sun Sentinel report (https://bit.ly/2f61ODK ).

Parents received phone messages this week that said: “While many of the clown threats in our community and across the nation have proven to be hoaxes, it is still best for us to continue to operate in an abundance of caution.”

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