District 51 says Facebook threats part of recent online clown scare

Published: Sep. 30, 2016 at 9:53 AM MDT
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District 51 reported early Friday morning that school officials had received reports of a Facebook threat against students in Grand Junction.

In an email to Palisade High School parents, Principal Dan Bollinger said a Facebook post by "Clowny Headsmasher" threatened to steal kids and "bad things will happen."

Law enforcement officials said there were reports of the same posting in Akron, Ohio that also mentioned Grand Junction, but law enforcement officials believe this may have referred to Grand Junction, Michigan, which is near Akron.

Tim Leon, director of safety and security for District 51, said the suspect threatening schools Friday in Ohio was taken into custody.

Officials believe the threats are part of a recent clown scare that has taken over social media and resulted in dozens of threats in more than ten states across the nation, including Colorado.

The Poudre School District in Ft. Collins also received a threatening Facebook message Friday from a page using a clown profile picture.

“I think the whole thing is pretty ridiculous and people have too much time on their hands,” said Kelly Marcus, a local parent.

“We've seen a lot of scary things starting to happen,” said Jean Martinez, a mother of four.

Police officers were sent to monitor Grand Junction High School Friday morning before the threat was determined to be for a school in Michigan.

“Today we felt like it was necessary to notify parents that we had the situation under control,” said Leon. “We investigated and there was nothing to it.”

The parents who were notified about the possible threat felt relieved.

“I think it's really important that the school district take any threat seriously and I'm glad they did,” said Marcus.

“I'm happy to say that my kids can go to school and know that they have people there to protect them and back them up,” said Martinez.

However, now that the false alarm has gone off, the community is worried about copycat clowns.

“I know that any time you do draw attention they were always is that possibly for the copycat, and parents need to take extra precaution and monitor where there kids this Halloween season,” said Martinez.

“I think people will want to dress up as clown because it's a deal ... As long as we are looking out for one another we can help keep each other safe,” said Marcus.

Leon said that the policy on Halloween costumes in schools is determined by each individual school.

If the threat was determined to be legitimate, the schools would have assessed the situation and went into shelter-in-place or lock down procedures. Grand Junction High School did not have to take those precautions.