CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee town was stricken with panic after residents reported seeing a man dressed in a clown suit handing out candy at various businesses, according to police.
The Clarksville Police Department posted a message to residents regarding the clown sightings Thursday.
“The great clown mystery has been solved,” the Facebook post began.
According to the post, an older man dressed in a clown costume sparked fear in the community Thursday morning when he was spotted handing out candy to children.
Police were notified of the man's activities by a school resource officer after a couple of 5th graders alerted administrators that a man dressed as a clown had offered them candy on their way to school, according to a report from local news site Clarksvillenow.com.
Officers were able to locate the man shortly thereafter and discovered that he was celebrating his birthday the way he does each year — by dressing up as a clown and handing out candy.
Officers followed up at locations where the man said he had visited earlier in the morning and verified his actions and whereabouts with business owners, who told police the man was very nice and is known to give out candy.
Police determined that the man did not mean any harm and had no intentions of scaring people. “EVERYONE CAN NOW BREATHE!!!!” the Facebook post said.
Reactions on the police department's post ranged from sympathy to outrage, with some expressing incredulity that the man would have seen his birthday tradition as a normal activity.
“You just can't do that in today's world,” one person wrote.
Another commenter had a different take. “I feel sorry for the little old gentleman who was just trying to spread happiness on his birthday!”
The Clarksville Police Department, meanwhile, responded to one commenter who suggested that the man probably “had no clue” how people would take his gesture.
“That's the indication we got,” the department wrote.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.