It’s a bizarre threat, playing on people’s fears of “creepy clowns.”
On Friday, a Facebook page titled “Ain’t Clownin’ Around” threatened to kidnap school children and kill their teachers.
It apparently circulated throughout Ohio, but Belmont County authorities took quick action to warn schools and police.
The threatening post on the Aint Clownin Around Facebook page was quickly taken down.
But Chief Deputy James Zusack spent the morning calling all Belmont County high schools.
“I mean we’re going to take every threat seriously. I don’t care if it’s a clown or what it is. If it’s a threat toward a school and our kids in Belmont County, we’re going to put every bit of information we can out to them so they can you know make their decisions on what they want to do,” said Chief Deputy Zusack.
Some schools went on lockdown, others beefed up security at dismissal, while others did nothing different.
Shadyside went on lockdown, but because students normally leave school for lunch, they had to scramble.
“So we had to feed 350 hungry 7th through 12th graders. So what we did, we contacted the local pizza shops, they made a lot of pizza, and my principal account’s buying it, so it turned into one big pizza party for us here at Shadyside,” said Shadyside Superintendent John Haswell.
While making the best of it, Haswell says the threat is nonetheless a crime.
“This is absolutely irresponsible. This put a damper on every school district in Ohio. This is something we shouldn’t be dealing with. And I know the authorities will find out who this person is and take care of ’em,” said Haswell.
In Bellaire, clowns have been spotted twice in the past week. A woman reported two clowns, gesturing to children to come to them. Fortunately, the children did not.
“They may have, must have been startled by something. It looks like they hid behind the bushes for an instant and then they left the area,” said Chief Mike Kovalyk
He says clown fears have gripped the citizens, some declaring they are carrying guns and will shoot clowns on sight. Kovalyk said that’s what they don’t want.
He has a message for anyone dressing up as a clown.
“If there’s anybody engaging in this activity, by all means, you better stop. And you better stop immediately,” said Kovalyk.
As for the threats, he says they are a crime, and the person or persons will be jailed, whether juvenile or adult.