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This retail giant won’t be caught clownin’ this Halloween season. Target has stopped the sale of clown costumes following the recent killer clown craze sweeping the nation.

“Given the current environment, we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said in a statement on Monday, October 17, according to the New York Post.

Target’s decision to remove clown costumes from their shelves follows McDonald’s’ announcement that they are pulling back on brand mascot Ronald McDonald’s public appearances.

“McDonald’s and franchisees in the local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities and as such are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being,” the fast food company told The Associated Press in a statement on October 11.

As previously reported, residents in New York, Kansas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama and Mississippi have reported clown-related incidents.

In Kansas City, Kansas, police had to post a message to their official Facebook page to reassure residents that there’s no real threat of clowns. “There have been no actual sightings of clowns trying to abduct children in in the KCK area. Please be aware that there may be copycats incidents but there has been no credible sightings at this time. As of now it is just an internet hoax,” the message read.

Though some of the incidents turned out to be hoaxes, one of them ended fatally. Last month, a 16-year-old high school sophomore was stabbed to death in Reading, Pennsylvania, by a man wearing a clown mask. A suspect, Avery Valentin-Bair, was arrested on first-degree murder and other charges in connection to the crime, the AP reports.

One of the more recent attacks occurred in a New York City subway station on October 5. According to ABC7 NY, a man dressed in clown attire chased a 16-year-old commuter through the Upper East Side’s 96th Street station with a large kitchen knife. The teen was not injured and an investigation is ongoing.

During an October 4 interview with Us Weekly, forensic criminologist Dr. Ron Martinelli suggested that America’s current pop-culture obsession with gory TV shows with creepy characters — such as The Walking Dead and American Horror Story — is partially to blame for the bizarre clown phenomenon.

“We’re seeing an increase in the types of television programming that involve more of this scary stuff,” the Temecula, California-based expert explained. “We’re getting that type of thing. That’s what I think is bringing this up.”

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