Calls regarding creepy clowns making threats to visit schools across the Las Vegas Valley reached such a point this week that the Clark County School District held a press conference Thursday to quell fears that have spread among students and via social media.
Kenneth Young, captain for the district police department, said that at this point there’s “no credibility” to the threats.
“There have been no incidents of any clowns that have chased kids, that have battered kids, that have been seen with guns,” he said.
Rumors had swept throughout the school system during the past nine days, Young said. They began in the southeast valley, near the area of Flamingo and U.S. 95, and spread to North Las Vegas, and they involved high schools and middle schools.
The reports mirror a recent rash of alleged killer clowns making threats in other cities and schools around the country, so much so, Young said, that Clark County school officials have been talking to authorities in other states about what’s occurring elsewhere.
“This is widespread,” Young said. “Even as far as Canada, this is going on.”
“Everybody is pretty much seeing the same thing,” he said. “We’re all in the same quandary as to where is the information coming from. The people who are doing this are very smart, and they are very computer-savvy.”
Some threats in Clark County schools have evolved into pranks. At Leavitt Middle School on Thursday, a student called out “clowns” in a crowded quad, which caused students to start running. About four to six students were injured and sent to the school nurse, according to Young.
“This is not the time to play pranks at a school,” Young said. “Kids start running. Kids become concerned and nervous about what is going on. There’s potential for kids being hurt.”
According to Young, “stories are growing” from a killer clown threatening to be at a school to the clown visiting the school and also doing “X, Y and Z.”
Young said school police have spoken to students who have been spreading rumors.
“It’s very disruptive,” Young said. “With parents getting information, or their kids calling and saying they heard there’s going to be clown at the school on this day, at this time. Parents have to make the decision: ‘Do I stay at work, do I go pick up my kid?’”
It also has disrupted classroom learning.
“Teachers are having to be distracted now from the educational day because they’re dealing with kids who can’t focus because they’re concerned about safety,” Young said. “It’s a … big distraction for everybody.”
According to The Associated Press, clown incidents have been reported this week at schools around the U.S., including Penn State University, where police said more than 500 students showed up early Tuesday to hunt for clowns.
In California, the Elk Grove and Natomas school districts have added security and are asking parents to discuss with their children avoiding strangers after Instagram clown posts threatened area campuses, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Some threats even have led to school closures.
Last Friday, two people were arrested and some Ohio schools were closed amid a rash of reported threats involving clowns against students in three suburban Cincinnati districts, according to the Associated Press.
Young said the district felt the need to call Thursday’s press conference as a reminder for parents to talk with their children about strategies on how to report credible information to responsible adults and law enforcement.
“There’s a lot of resources that go into looking at these types of incidents,” Young said.
Contact Natalie Bruzda at email@example.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.