‘Creepy clown’ sightings spread across NJ, locking down schools
Clowns apparently have replaced bomb threats at frustrating law enforcement and education officials at some schools in the region.
The threat of a clown somehow attacking a Philipsburg Middle School caused a shelter-in-place to be ordered on Friday morning as districts across New Jersey are responding to concern from parents.
Mayor Stephen Ellis told LehighValleyLive.com that a construction worker reported seeing a post on social media that a clown was going to the school with a gun. Captain Robert Stettner said the school was ordered to shelter-in-place while police investigated the threat, eventually ruling it not credible.
The school was scheduled to have a half-day on Friday.
The clown phenomenon is not contained to the Garden State.
North Babylon High School on Long Island was put on "lock out" on Friday morning when the school was also included in a social media threat, according to ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
Toms River police spokesman Ralph Stocco said that while they have not received any credible threats to Jersey Shore area schools, they will increase their presence at Toms River schools "in order to provide an extra layer of security."
School Superintendent David Healy said no early dismissals or lockdown are in place in any Toms River school. He said the district will reinforce its policies about not allowing uauthorized visitors and will call police when warranted.
"We take the safety of your children very seriously and will continue to monitor all locations while remaining in communication with the school system," Healy said.
"We have no viable threats that have occurred in Ocean County," Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said, putting the blame on social media for spreading the threats. "Any call that comes in we always track but we have absolutely have not been able to verify anything that has come in."
Stocco said the initial sightings may have come from an "organized movie promotion and have morphed into copycat reports throughout New Jersey."
Marlboro Police spokesman Capt. Fred Reck said his department has not received any credible threats involving clowns. "We have been monitoring what has been going on in North Jersey but having nothing in our area," Reck said.
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