-- Pranksters dressed as evil clowns are terrorizing residents in several French cities, some armed with guns, knives or baseball bats, authorities said.
The scary clowns appear to be part of a trend that started a few weeks ago in California, where police received several reports of scary clowns spooking passersby. Spooky clowns have also been spotted in New Mexico, Indiana and Florida.
While some of the reports involve children playing pranks, others are more serious. A man was assaulted by three individuals, including one who was dressed as a clown, on Sunday in the city of Montpellier, police said in a news release.
Some of the clowns are armed with hammers and knifes and other weapons, and some are stopping cars and asking for money, according to Eurovision.
Police arrested a group of 14 teens dressed as clowns in southern France on Saturday, the news network reported.
Frank Dehay, a spokesperson for the National Police, warned people who are dressing up as clowns for fun to realize the panic they are inflicting, and to consider the consequences.
The World Clown Association says such spooky sightings are giving clowns a bad rap.
"People dressed as horror clowns are not 'real clowns,'" president-elect Randy Christensen said. "They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience."
Clowns, he added, should promote "positive, family-friendly" enjoyment.