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A couple of York City clowns picked the wrong joggers to frighten just days before Halloween. The two youths, both wearing clown masks, turned tail and ran when their target turned the tables on them.

York City School District Police Chief Mike Muldrow and friend Benton Jackson were jogging about 7 p.m. Wednesday along the portion of York County's Heritage Rail Trail that runs next to the Rabbit Transit bus station.

"We were just jogging along when I noticed some of the adults around the bus station and on Pershing Avenue were looking in our direction," he said, so he looked behind him to see what was happening.

As he turned, he heard screeching and leaves crunching under footsteps.

"There were two young guys, 12 or 13 years old. They both had clown masks on," Muldrow said. "One had a real big stick."

Kids took off: Muldrow said he braced, told the clowns, "Let's do it," and took a swing in their general direction.

"They took off running," he said, dropping the stick as they fled. "I remember just shaking my head and looking over at my friend. We actually just went back to jogging."

Muldrow, who turns 42 soon, said while he doesn't know what the youths' intentions were, he has his suspicions.

"I think they probably wanted to see if they could scare us," he said, sounding not at all scared.

And it likely would have taken something more sinister than kids in masks to scare Jackson, who owns Affordable Mattress & Furniture of York. He is in the Air Force and recently returned home from being deployed in the Middle East, according to Muldrow.

Muldrow's advice for the youthful pranksters: "Try to find a safer way to have fun."

Be careful out there: He said he's concerned kids jumping on the nationwide clown craze bandwagon could end up getting hurt by the people they're trying to scare.

"There's a lot of armed adults," he said. "You could run up on the wrong person."

Muldrow said the school district police have received several calls about people walking around wearing clown masks near schools during the school day. Clowns have been reported near McKinley, Phineas Davis and Ferguson K-8 schools, he said, but they were gone by the time officers arrived.

The school students Muldrow has spoken with don't find the clown phenomenon particularly amusing.

"It's more annoying than it is funny," he said.

Media fueling clown craze? York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said he doesn't doubt that all the stories and reports about clown sightings across the country have convinced some people into thinking it's a funny stunt. Like Muldrow, he warned that such pranksters could get hurt.

"The person they're trying to scare could believe it's a real attack," Kahley said. "It's not a good idea."

He confirmed city officers have been dispatched to areas around the city for a few reported clown sightings, but he said no clowns were found.

It could not be determined whether the York County 911 Center is receiving many, or any, calls about marauding clowns because 911 director Jacqueline Brininger did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Tuesday night's incident won't have an effect on Muldrow's jogging routine.

"I like to jog in York City so I can see people and people can see me. For me, it connects me with my neighbors," he said. "I want people to know (being chief) is not just a job for me."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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