With Halloween little more than a month away, the clowning around has already started in Chattanooga.
Local law enforcement officers were kept on their toes last week amid a rash of clown-related incidents that spooked Chattanooga area residents and almost shut down two schools on Wednesday, authorities said.
Authorities were alarmed on Sunday by a short-lived “Chattanooga Klown” Facebook page, which posted threats to kill children at local bus stops. Screen grabs of the page show updates such as “I will be at these bus stops today to kill… Howard, tyner, brainerd, Eastlake academy” and “I will be in Chattanooga to kill tonite.” Cops ultimately discredited the page, which was taken down by Monday afternoon. “Chattanooga Klown” was a trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday.
The Fort Oglethorpe Police Department also received reports of an individual dressed in a scary clown costume in the area near Cloud Springs Road on Monday, September 19. According to the complaint, the suspect, who was wielding a knife, chased two kids from a store parking lot back to their home. Lieutenant Steve Blevins said Tuesday that multiple reports from surrounding areas followed.
“We are aware that there have been similar type incidents being reported in the news and on social media in various locations throughout the country,” the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department said via a Facebook announcement. “For these reasons, the police department wishes to advise the public that any incident of this nature reported in the city will be taken seriously and will result in criminal charges for the person/persons found to be responsible.”
Two Red Bank Middle School students were arrested and charged with multiple offenses Wednesday after they anonymously circulated threats online against Red Bank Middle and High Schools, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. The threat, which spread on social media Tuesday night, apparently claimed that a clown would shoot up the schools on Wednesday.
Both schools remained open on Wednesday despite the threats, which were ultimately attributed to two male students. The boys will remain unidentified because they are minors.
“The two students will be charged as juveniles and have been released to their parents’ custody pending further action by the juvenile court,” said Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook.