School administrators at Greenwood Elementary School in the Chicago area say the school was on lockdown Tuesday after a group of students claimed to have seen three creepy clowns, threatening to kill them.
According to the Chicago Tribune, when the students returned to class just shortly before 2 p.m. from recess, they told their teachers that there were three clowns outside making threats to kill them.
One of the creepy clowns was carrying a knife while another held a briefcase and the third clown had a gun in its pocket, according to the students, but they weren’t sure if the gun was real.
The students added that the creepy clowns threatened to return Friday to kill them.
The staff immediately alerted the Waukegan police and placed the school on lockdown, taking “take disciplinary action according to its policy,” while police canvassed the area, but there were no signs of the creepy clowns.
Police say the clowns may have left school grounds in a black SUV.
However, after further investigation, it was uncovered that the story was false and the children fabricated the creepy clown threats.
A spokesperson for the school district, Nick Alajakis, stated “It’s been determined the students at Greenwood Elementary School, 1919 North Ave., embellished the story of individuals dressed as clowns.”
“This was fueled by the national clown hysteria to the point they thought they saw clowns themselves.”
However, “students today admitted that the story was fabricated, and what they actually saw were construction workers carrying tools at a nearby work site,” said Alajakis.
“The national hysteria and social media proliferation surrounding ‘creepy/ killer clowns’ has led to many parent and student concerns about safety in our schools, and around the community. We would like the community to know that we take all of these concerns seriously, and we work with police to follow up on all reported sightings and threats.”
When the reported clown threats turned out to be false, the Comdr. Joe Florip of the Waukegan Police Department released the following statement: “Detectives from the Waukegan Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division began investigating (Tuesday’s) incident. After speaking to staff, neighbors and reviewing some school video footage, the clown sighting from yesterday has been disproven.”
On Wednesday, the Lake County Sheriff — Mark Curran — released the following statement, stating that the “department will take proactive measures against individuals acting disorderly while wearing costumes or dressed as clowns, a new trend known as ‘creepy clown.'”
“The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will aggressively investigate anyone who dresses in a costume, wears a mask, disguises themselves while making threats or acting disorderly toward others,” Curran said.
“If you see something, say something — I can’t emphasize this enough! It’s imperative the community calls the Sheriff’s Office or their local police department if they feel anything is suspicious or out of the ordinary.”
Although the clown threats were false, there has been a “rash of clown sightings in the Chicago area,” including parks, on paths and trails, and roadways, in recent weeks, according to the Daily Herald.
In a Facebook post, the Round Lake Police Department wrote “As we enter October, please be aware that communities all over our area are seeing a resurgence in the number of messages received regarding concerns about ‘clowns,’ specifically individuals dressing up like clowns and walking around in an attempt to draw attention or scare individuals.”
“This has been a frequent national news item over the years with reports of clowns showing up and behaving in a manner that can be described as ‘creepy.’ We believe these behaviors are intended as a joke to scare individuals.”
[Featured Image via iStock Photo/Eldinhoid]