She didn’t like scary things.
The 22-year-old was walking her dog Tuesday night at her North Charleston apartment complex when she saw the figure. It was clad in dark clothing, wearing a hood and standing about 50 feet away.
It turned. That’s when she saw the “evil clown” mask and the knife.
The woman was the latest person to be involved in a nationwide series of so-called “creepy clown” sightings that popped up in August in Greenville.
Beyond the typical coulrophobia — fear of clowns — the sightings have created some hysteria.
In Greenville, authorities vowed to arrest anyone wearing a clown mask. In September, police in Greensboro, N.C., say a man with a machete chased a person wearing a clown mask into woods near an apartment complex. At some universities, students are reported to have formed vigilante "clown hunting" groups.
The phenomenon has even spread to the United Kingdom with sightings reported and a "Clown Hunting" Facebook page set up.
Earlier this month, the retail store Target pulled clown masks from its shelves because of the sightings.
With Halloween just days away, the risk for anti-clown retaliations is significant.
The Charleston Southern University student confronted Tuesday night told officers that the person wearing the clown mask walked toward her with the knife, according to a North Charleston police report. She fled to a friend’s apartment where she called authorities.
The woman described the suspect as about 17 years old, 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, but couldn’t describe the person’s gender or race, the report said. Officers didn’t find the suspect during an initial search.
According to the report, the woman wasn’t able to provide further details because “she does not like scary things … it was clear the victim would not know to recognize a common horror character mask or a generic mask.”
Shortly after the incident at the Atlantic Palms apartment complex, located at 2520 Atlantic Palms Lane near the university, Charleston Southern officials sent out a campus alert directing students and staff to report suspicious activity to the North Charleston Police Department and "walk with a friend if possible."
“Our number one goal is to protect the health and safety of the campus population,” said John Strubel, a university spokesman. “CSU has an emergency response plan which is accessible to students, parents, faculty, staff and our local community through our campus website at CharlestonSouthern.edu/security.”
Students can also call #2020 from any phone on campus or 843-553-5896 to request a security escort back to their dorm, Strubel said. Students can also text the phone number to contact security.
“Due to the proximity of Tuesday’s incident, Charleston Southern is asking all students, faculty and staff to remain vigilant and alert,” Strubel said. “If you see something, report it.”
The incident was the first time this year that an “evil clown” has been encountered in the Charleston area.
In September, several people contacted Mount Pleasant police to report a clown armed with a gun walking on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
But that clown wasn’t armed. It turned out to be someone paying tribute to another clown who had died or had other troubles.
The incident in North Charleston is similar to what’s been reported in other cities since August. In Greenville, the clowns reportedly tried to lure children into a wooded area with candy. The clowns were reported to be flashing green lasers, and armed with chains and knives.
North Charleston police declined to comment Wednesday.
The Charleston Police Department has issued Halloween safety tips including that state law prohibits anyone over 16 years old from wearing a mask in public.
Those who are of age to wear a mask can only do so during trick-or-treating, which must stop at 10 p.m., according to a city ordinance.