Clown sightings in the Chicago area have sparked major concern among parents after threats targeting schools in the area were posted to social media and in-person.
Disney II Magnet School sent out a letter warning that the North Side school has been named among other schools in a threatening post.
“At this time, to our knowledge, none of the threats so far have been deemed credible, but as new posts become available, they are being shared with the authorities for further investigation,” principal Katie Speth wrote.
The school community has been instructed to call Chicago Police should anyone spot a clown around the school, she said. Meanwhile, Chicago Police and the school system’s security office are involved.
CPS would not immediately say which other schools were named.
The bizarre trend of clown spotting and online “clown threats” has creeped across the country and hit the Chicago area earlier this week.
Early Tuesday, parents walking kids to school in West Englewood saw someone dressed as a clown running toward them, according to police.
Another school in North Lawndale reported an electronic threat, according to police.
But a threat made Tuesday on social media against a Portage Park school was deemed a fraud. “There are no credible threats to any school right now,” the 25th District Chicago CAPS tweeted Tuesday morning. “The Killer clowns are internet fantasy, nothing more.”
And a “malevolent clown” seen Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago “was a student doing a performance-art project,” according to the university’s Twitter feed, adding, “No arrest, says UIC police.”
Suburban police and school districts also are on alert. One Waukegan school went on a brief lockdown after children said three people dressed in clown masks at the edge of Greenwood Elementary School’s property stood taunting students, according police. One of the clowns had a knife, one had a briefcase and one had a gun “in his pocket,” police said. It was unknown Tuesday night if the knife was real or if the one clown was armed with a handgun.
The children who saw the clowns also reported they had threatened to return Friday to “kill them,” police said.
Elsewhere in the country, teens have been arrested in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas accused of making clown-related threats online. An actual attack by a man in a clown suit and face paint was reported this week on a Texas college campus.
The spate of scary clown sightings has prompted the president of the World Clown Association to issue a statement saying that anyone dressed in clown regalia and making threats isn’t really a clown.
“Whoever is doing this crazy stuff is not a clown,” Randy Christensen said in a video statement. “This is someone that’s trying to use a good clean wholesome art form and then distorting it, trying to gain access to a child. This is not clowning.”