Creepy Clowns Are Trying to Lure Kids Into the Woods in South Carolina. Seriously.

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(Via Giphy)

2016 has been a tough year, but I did not realize it was because we were actually living in a broadcast season of American Horror Story until news came out that a group of creepy clowns has been trying to lure children into the woods near an apartment complex in South Carolina.

(Related: Disciplining Children Is Hard, But Please Do Not Hire a Clown to Terrify Your Kids Into Behaving)

According to CNN, residents of the Fleetwood Manor apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina, received a note from management recently to warn them that “a clown or someone dressed as a clown” had allegedly been trying to lure children into the woods in the area.

Jesus. How do you even react to getting a letter like that? Aside from the semantic issue of whether or not there is a difference between “a clown” and “someone dressed as a clown,” this is creepy as hell.

I love a good wandering clown prank as much as the next person, but most clown pranksters just appear after dark and lurk in random places, like on swingsets or under lampposts. At that level, the clown joke is kind of funny. One woman said she saw a clown near the complex and it waved at her, and she just waved back. But kids in the apartment complex have been saying that the clown has been trying to get them to go into the woods, and that’s the point where the idea of the clown costume as funny prank comes to a screeching halt.

Two kids told their parents that the clowns were calling to them from the woods and offering them money to come with them.

“[Our children] mentioned, ‘Mama, there’s clowns out there in the woods and they’re trying to get us to come out there,’” local father James Arnold said to Buzzfeed. “Some had chains, some had knives, and some were holding out money, saying, ‘Come here, we’ve got candy for you,’ but they wouldn’t go.”

The kids ran immediately home, which is good.

Look, if you want to sit under a street lamp in a creepy clown costume, that’s one thing. But if you’re actually engaging with and trying to lure children into the woods, you’re either the worst prankster in the world or a creepy monster who is actually attempting to abduct children.

Obviously dressing as a clown and trying to lure children into the woods is scary as hell, and if this is a prank it is the worst prank idea anybody has ever had, because some of the residents of the apartment complex carry guns. According to the New York Times, some residents of the apartment complex have reportedly fired guns at the clowns, which is definitely a sign that this has gone way too far on both sides of this equation. If your clown prank is scaring people enough that they’re shooting guns at you, stop with the fucking creepy clown prank before someone dies! Nobody wants to die in a creepy clown costume!

And also apparently some people in the apartment complex have no idea of what a reasonable use of a gun is. They know clowns are just people in costumes, right? They aren’t actually supernatural alien killers. It’s not OK to kill a human being for wearing a clown costume, even if you’re afraid of clowns.

This is not the first time a scary clown prank has scared people so badly they turned to guns. A while ago a clown was popping up around Green Bay, Wisconsin, as part of a promotion for a viral video. But while some people thought it was fun to try and find the clown and photograph him for Instagram, other people actually started pulling guns on the clown, which was really just an actor in a clown suit.

“It’s getting a little bit scary because people are starting to believe it a little bit more, and we’re starting to see some of those unsettling pictures on Facebook,” an actor reportedly involved with the project said. “Not of the clown, but of people armed and preparing to defend themselves, saying, ‘I can’t go outside because I’m afraid of clowns,’ or whatever. That’s just a little too far.”

No shit it’s too far. Don’t pull a gun on a guy in a clown costume! It’s just a guy in a clown costume! How the hell did the people dressing as clowns to try to scare people wind up looking like the sanest people in this story?