The nationwide “scary clowns” phenomenon hit home this week, when Aberdeen police were alerted rumors of a social media post saying individuals dressed as clowns were going to stage an attack on Aberdeen High School.
Aberdeen Police quickly descended on the school after the post was reported and, after talking to students, determined the threat to be a hoax.
“Officers worked on it for hours (Wednesday); we tracked down every lead,” said police spokesman Lt. Kevin Darst. “We take these threats very seriously but in the end we couldn’t substantiate the claim.”
Rumors about a social media post claiming an attack on the school led to the investigation. “Some kid said they saw some post on social media, but we could not find the kid who saw it,” said Darst. “All the kids we talked to didn’t see the post, they heard about it from someone else.”
A small police presence was on hand at the high school Thursday morning, “just precautionary,” according to Darst.
Aberdeen Superintendent Thomas A. Opstad released a statement Thursday, saying in part, “The Aberdeen School district has been working with police and we encourage students and parents to report what they are hearing.”
While noting that “none of the stories have been substantiated,” he urges the school district community to “be vigilant and help our students gather the information needed so that local law enforcement can follow up on their investigation. Student safety is our primary concern.”
Opstad is also asking for anyone with a screen shot of the original post to share it with Aberdeen High School or the police.
The Aberdeen High threat came the same day TIME Magazine published a story about the “clown attack craze” that has caused panic and fear in communities throughout the country. To date, none of the threatened attacks have been carried out and no sightings of “scary clowns” have been substantiated.
Thursday afternoon Aberdeen Police received a report that someone wearing a clown mask was spotted driving in the neighborhood of the school. Officers searched for the vehicle, Darst said, “and were in force” at the school Friday morning.
“They located the van and the student who was wearing the jester mask,” he said. “The student thought it would be funny to put the mask on after his mom picked him up from school.”
Officers explained the concerns with a prank of this nature in light of the recent threat and others like it nationwide. “It was determined that there is no threat to the school from this report,” concluded Darst.