Killer clown craze poses deadly danger, says MLA
Killer clowns are on the loose around Northern Ireland - and while the joke may appear harmless to pranksters, someone could really end up dead, an MLA has warned.
The "clown craze", also known as "killer clown", appears to have been inspired by clown-related pranks in the US and has seen a string of copycat incidents across the UK.
It involves people dressed as creepy clowns acting suspiciously and frightening members of the public.
In the most concerning cases, the clowns have even been armed with knives.
A masked man carrying a knife left a group of children aged 11 and 12 "upset and distressed" when he jumped out as they were on their way to Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, at 8.40am on Friday.
The PSNI has already issued a warning to anyone who is involved in the so-called 'killer clown' craze sweeping the UK.
And now an Assembly member has said the fright of bumping into 'a killer clown' could give someone a heart attack.
On Friday, a school in Coleraine shut its doors after reports that 'killer clowns' were about to strike.
Others have been spotted running about Belfast, at a petrol station in Cookstown, at Ards town hall, and outside a college in Cullybackey at night.
North Antrim MLA Robin Swann called on the community to "give whatever assistance they can to the police in helping to stamp out the potentially fatal so-called 'killer clown craze' which has gripped the province ahead of the Halloween break".
He said: "I issue a plea to young people who may be considering taking part in the pathetic 'killer clown craze' which is now sweeping Northern Ireland - please think twice before someone is either seriously hurt or dies.
"What may seem like a bit of fun could end up in a criminal record that could affect the rest of your life.
"The act itself is highly irresponsible, where sad individuals get a kick out of scaring old and young alike. If this childish and potentially fatal craze is not eradicated, we could have a situation where an elderly person, or any individual with a heart condition, dies from the fright."