ANSONIA, Conn. (WTNH)– Police in more communities are taking extra precautions because of social media posts involving clowns, and in at least 3 Connecticut towns, police have now made arrests
In Naugatuck yesterday, the police patrolled every school because of a threat from an Instagram account called “Jackson the Clown.” It said “lock your doors, which school wanna go first?” If that sounds childish, it was. Naugatuck police arrested two girls, both less than 14 years old. One is from Naugatuck, the other lives in Stratford. Several towns got similar Instagram threats, including Ansonia.
“The threat was that they would show up and they were going to start shooting up the school, and that when they were done with the Middle School, they were going to move on to the high school,” explained Ansonia Police spokesman Lt. Pat Lynch.
While Instagram posts can seem anonymous, the social media site was very helpful to police. The information it provided led detectives to two 13 year-old girls, both students at Ansonia Middle School. In Milford, police arrested two students at Jonathan Law High School for distributing clown pictures. All of this comes just days after a new state law went into effect.
“We are going to punish people who make threats against our schools,” said state Sen. Tony Hwang, (R-Fairfield).
Senator Hwang fought for that law. As of Saturday, October 1st, it is now a much more serious crime to make a threat against a school with the intent to cause an evacuation. Here is the problem, though: Instagram threats like “watch out” and “you’re next” may not be specific enough.
“These kind of veiled threats run into a grey area because what it comes back to is you can’t legislate against common sense,” Hwang explained.
In Ansonia, the 13 year-old girls were charged with threatening in the first degree and breach of peace in the second degree.
“The new law is more of a change in the penalties. It’s not so much a change in the charges. The charge is still the same. but it increases penalties when you make threats towards schools or schools functions and things of that nature,” explained Lt. Lynch.
We will probably never know the penalty is, because juvenile court is not open to the public, and their juvenile records will remain sealed. Ansonia plans to have an increased police presence at schools today
Despite those arrests, more and more towns are dealing with the clown threats. Police and school officials in New Haven had to call a press conference Tuesday to talk about what they are doing. An Instagram account with the name “New Haven Clown” posted vague threats about several schools there.
In Bridgeport, two different schools went into lockdown Tuesday due to clown related threats. And in Meriden, someone painted graffiti on a car reading “Bobo the clown was here.” The Cheshire Police posted on their Facebook page that they are also investigating clown threats on social media, so expect police to be at schools there.