Education

‘Creepy clown’ threat leads Sacramento County schools to add security

This Instagram page with a “School Hit List” prompted Elk Grove Unified officials to inform parents that schools are actively working with law enforcement to investigate any threats to safety.
This Instagram page with a “School Hit List” prompted Elk Grove Unified officials to inform parents that schools are actively working with law enforcement to investigate any threats to safety.

As “creepy clown” social media posts raise concerns in communities across the country, Elk Grove and Natomas unified school districts sent letters to parents Tuesday informing them of recent Instagram clown posts threatening area campuses.

The Instagram post by “sac.townclowns” includes a “School Hit List” that specifically lists Sheldon, Inderkum, Franklin, Elk Grove and Pleasant Grove high schools, as well as Toby Johnson and Smedburg middle schools.

The sac.townclowns page includes a photo of a playground and school library, as well as at least one person dressed as a clown and a picture of a knife.

A Monday post said, “Today at Sheldon u can see me in at 12 a.m.” On Tuesday, he asked. “Did anyone see me at to Sheldon yesterday?”

Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have described the clown posts as a “national prank,” but one that they have to take seriously.

Across the country, clown sightings and posts by “creepy clowns” on social media have struck fear. Threatening posts have extended to schools in recent days and prompted officials to assign extra police to schools or lock down campuses. Two schools closed Tuesday in Puyallup, Wash.

Natomas Unified spokesman Jim Sanders said Leroy Greene Academy and Natomas High School were also mentioned by “clowns” on other social media sites.

The Elk Grove and Natomas school districts have added security and are asking parents to discuss with their children avoiding strangers.

“Social media has been utilized to spread fear and concern about creepy clown sightings and the threat or anticipation that they may show up and disrupt,” stated a Natomas letter sent to parents Tuesday. “Beginning last night and extending to this morning, it was shared with us that a number of local schools were included on social media lists clearly connected to ‘creepy clowns.’ 

Elk Grove Unified spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton said she did not know if the threat was credible. “It’s hard to say. Our position is to take all threats seriously.”

School district officials and law enforcement are monitoring social media and investigating the threats. “We will continue to assess the credibility of any threats,” said Sgt. Tony Turnbull, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, the lead agency on the investigation.

“It’s a felony offense to make a threat against a public school,” Pinkerton said. “We are hoping it’s not kids. We don’t want to see our kids get arrested.”

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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