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Menacing clowns in Bakersfield prompt calls to police, one arrest

The stuff of nightmares has hit the streets of Bakersfield, where police say they're fielding reports from members of the public freaked out by clowns standing in public holding machetes and baseball bats.

One teen was arrested on suspicion of annoying a minor after taking the prank too far. Police say he dressed as a clown and chased other teens, albeit without a weapon, leaving one of them "visibly shaken."

The prankster allegedly admitted to copying the likeness of the "Wasco Clown" -- so named for the small San Joaquin Valley town -- although with one key difference.

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In Wasco, the clown is apparently part of a husband and wife art project, photos of which have gone viral on social media. (A similar image went viral around the world in the form of the Northampton clown in Britain.) 

In Bakersfield, police Sgt. Joseph Grubbs said police are taking the clown reports seriously because it could turn into something more dangerous.

As of mid-Friday, Bakersfield police had fielded 16 reports of clowns wielding weapons.

"We will make arrests on this," Grubs said. "We want this to stop."

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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