Clowning around: Clown threats come to Central Texas schools
By LPR Staff
What started as a series of YouTube pranks has grown into something far more sinister.
Over the last several months, a group of pranksters embracing the common fear of scary clowns, has dressed up to prank unsuspecting strangers, filming their exploits for laughs on their online video channels. Rec
ently, though, police across the country have been responding to a series of increasingly violent and threatening incidents involving what have become known as “crazy clowns.”
Monday night, a student at Texas State University was attacked in a university housing complex by a suspect wearing a black-and-white striped jumpsuit, a green wig and white face paint.
Schools across the greater Austin area have received online threats by people dressed as clowns; in some cases, clowns have been reported to be prowling the halls of area high schools.
To date, Lockhart ISD Superintendent Susan K. Bohn said the District has not received any threats; however, she noted the District is monitoring social media and will take any threats seriously.
“We expect that we’re going to hear more complaints as it gets closer to Halloween,” Lockhart Police Department Captain John Roescher said. “We did have a couple of calls [Tuesday], but those were about a clown that commonly visits the nursing homes in the area – a funny clown, not a scary clown.”
Still, reports have been made of “crazy clown” threats against several Austin ISD middle schools and high schools, as well as Bastrop, Smithville and Cedar Creek High Schools.
Over the weekend, a Houston-area girl was charged with inciting an assault after posting on social media that she hoped a clown would attack her principal. Another Texas teen was charged with making a terroristic threat after threatening a clown attack at his school.
“I think that it started somewhere just as a prank, and that people don’t realize how serious it really is,” Lockhart Chief of Police Mike Lummus said. “I think that kids think it’s funny, and what they don’t realize is that if they put something like that out there, that they’re going to do a clown attack, that they’ve now crossed the line into committing a crime.”
Lummus said he was concerned that clown pranks could get someone hurt; many people are afraid of clowns, he noted, and if someone who has that fear has someone run up on them with the idea of playing a prank, it could end badly.
“I know people that have that fear,” he said. “I have no doubt that if someone rushes up on some of those people, they’re going to get beat up or they’re going to get shot.”
Still, he said, people need to understand that the threat of “crazy clowns” is also a serious thing.
“It started as a joke somewhere,” he said. “But there are also the kind of people out there who are using it as an opportunity to do wrong to others. It’s important that people take it seriously.”
The sad part, he noted, is that these sort of attacks are changing the perception of clowns, even for those who don’t already fear them.
“There was a time when we took our kids to the circus, dragging them in to see the clowns,” he said. “And now, we have to teach our kids to be afraid of clowns because of all this going on. It’s just sad.”
Authorites encourage local residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially at dusk and while outdoors at night. To report suspicious activity in your area, contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401 or the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department at (512) 398-6777. In an emergency situation dial 9-1-1.