Whether it's the fact Stephen King's "IT" is being remade or because we are approaching Halloween, it's undeniable that the creepy clown sightings have exploded. Initially, the creepy clown craze started in Greenbay, Wisconsin as a marketing ploy for a local horror movie.
That particular clown, carrying his signature black balloons, would just walk around town at night to be caught on security camera footage. Later identified as Gags, the clown gained national attention and spurred copycats. Initially, however, law enforcement were unable to do anything about the disturbing sightings because no threats were made no laws were broken.
As we get closer to Halloween, the sightings and hoaxes have increased with a number of incidents escalating. Tennessee has seen several reports go beyond the typical modus operandi. That is, rather than just standing around in their terrifying makeup, waiting to be filmed or photographed, some have been making threats.
In one such incident in late September, Antioch and Glencliff High Schools in Nashville received a threat via social media which forced their students to be put on a lockout. This measure allowed students to continue with their routine while locking out anyone from the outside. It was later discovered the unspecified social media threats were not reliable.
Again, on approximately September 26th, another creepy clown surfaced, who made threats via social media, naming 24 schools in Phoenix, Arizona and causing 1,500 students to cut classes for fear of their safety. The clown grabbed the attention of the FBI who ultimately arrested three juveniles after their investigation. Those three kids now face felony charges; however, the FBI believes there are more individuals involved.
On September 27th, teens, donning creepy clown masks, were implicated in fast food robberies in Arizona. The following day, New York residents reported a group of clowns who were jumping in front of their cars. No arrests have been made and it is unclear whether the culprits have been identified.
Parents and police are concerned because children in the south have made several reports of clowns approaching them at their bus stops or who have chased them off from the playground. The Tennessee Sheriff asked residents to be aware there is a possible threat for clowns attempting to bait children into the woods.
With the new wave of creepy clowns, there is real potential for jokesters to be charged with a criminal offense, including the act of making terroristic threats, depending on the situation. Lately, most of those being investigated and cited are teenagers out to fool and scare their friends, not realizing the consequences that may arise. Additionally, anyone who lies about a clown sighting or threat, may also be charged with a felony for making a false report, which could land you in prison.
It's important to remember to discuss proper social media etiquette with children, including teenagers. However, if you, someone you know or even your child has been charged in relation to one of these sightings or alleged threats, contact a knowledgeable and caring criminal defense attorney to discuss what outcomes to expect and any defenses you may have to the charges.