Westfield San Francisco Centre. (Ryan McNulty / Special to S.F. Examiner)

Armed men with ‘creepy clown’ masks in SF thwarted by Westfield mall security

Three men with “creepy clown” masks and a gun ran from Westfield San Francisco Centre after being discovered by security guards on Sunday, according to police.

The guards were conducting their normal rounds in the emergency stairwells in the mall, when they came across the three men, said San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Officer Carlos Manfredi.

“They saw three suspects, two clown masks that they were holding, and one of the three brandished a gun,” Manfredi said.

The men did not point their guns at the Westfield mall guards and fled on foot through the exit at Powell and Market streets, Manfredi said.

SFPD was notified of the incident at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, and the suspects remained at large as of Sunday evening.

Though the suspects were “already gone” by the time SFPD was called, Manfredi said, “anytime there is a call with a person with a gun, you get every single unit available in that district.”

Westfield management sent the following statement to the Examiner: “There has been no incident at the center today but earlier this afternoon security officers observed suspicious activity that was reported to the San Francisco Police Department.”

When asked if the clown masks were “creepy clown” masks, Manfredi said they were “very scary.”

Clown sightings have been reported throughout the Bay Area this month, though the “creepy clown” threat has been directed mainly toward schools in the region and across the country this year. The threats, posted on social media sites like Instagram, began earlier this year on the East Coast and have spread to the West Coast.

Most of the threats have been hoaxes. The clowns have scared people, but few have been dangerous.

As the San Francisco Examiner reported previously, San Francisco had its first publicized “creepy clown” sighting on a 5-Fulton Muni bus in early October. This “creepy clown” did not brandish a weapon, but muttered to himself and made obscene gestures toward passengers on the bus.

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