LARGO (FOX 13) - Creepy clowns have been showing up across the country, and now a Largo teen says she was chased by one as she walked to her school bus stop. Investigators are trying to figure out who was behind that mask.
The girl said it happened right on Trotter Road near 134th Avenue. This is just one in a string of recent "creepy clown" reports popping up all around the county.
It may be all fun and games, but the sheriff's office warns there's a fine line between a prank and a crime.
Shakita Bellamy could not have imagined the reason her phone would ring early Wednesday morning.
“I received a call from my daughter that a clown was chasing her,” mom Shakita Bellamy said.
You read that right - a clown. Her daughter and some friends were walking toward their bus stop on Trotter Road.
“She walked past a bush and she noticed something strange and when she looked again, she noticed it was a clown, they all took off running,” Bellamy said.
She thought they went away, but when they walked back toward the bus stop, the clown chased them again, before they were able to safely get on the bus.
“If it's a practical joke, it's not funny,” Bellamy said. “You never know who's behind the clown mask. Could be a pedophile, we have tons of pedophiles in this area.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is taking the report seriously.
“The clown suit was yellow. It had polka dots on it,” said Kavontae Smalls with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. “The person was wearing the big red clown shoes and had a clown mask on, and it was a white mask with yellow eyes and red hair.”
“That is not illegal, to have on a clown mask. However, when you start harassing others, then it does become illegal,” Smalls said.
The largo clown may not be done. While the FOX 13 News crew shot video Thursday afternoon, a group of kids claimed they had just been chased. For those in the clowning community, it's no laughing matter.
“The people that are doing that are not clowns. They are dressing up like clowns,” said Joye “Ting” Swisher with Comedy Connection Caring Clowns.
Ting teaches Caring Clown College at Largo Medical Center. She fears impostors with more sinister intentions could tarnish the reputations of the good clowns dedicated to spreading joy, not fear.
“We are caring clowns. We are clowns that want to engage one-on-one with people, and touch peoples' lives in a positive manner,” she explained.
The sheriff's office is asking parents, if their kids are planning on wearing a clown mask for Halloween to talk them about what's appropriate - and legal - behavior. Though some clown reports around the country have been deemed hoaxes, they say if you see anything suspicious, don't hesitate to call law enforcement.