Clown threats spread to Carroll
Two schools are put on temporary lockout; reports unsubstantiated
Two Carroll County schools were under heightened security for about an hour Wednesday after reports of what officials described as clown-related threats — the latest incident in which threats involving menacing clowns have spread on social media.
Carroll County schools officials said that the reports were unsubstantiated, and they lifted the “lockout” at Shiloh Middle School and Hampstead Elementary School at 2 p.m.
A lockout indicates a possible external threat, and all outside doors are locked, and students are kept inside as classes are conducted as usual.
A parent notified school administrators with concerns that Shiloh Middle School was a possible target of threats, citing social media posts about clowns.
Assistant Superintendent Steven Johnson said law enforcement was notified and the schools were placed under a lockoout as a precaution.
Hampstead Elementary was included because of its proximity to Shiloh Middle, Johnson said.
“The threat was thoroughly investigated and found to be unsubstantiated,” the school system said in a news release.
Anumber of people have been arrested in connection with clown threats nationwide. A16-year-old Westminster girl was charged this week in connection with clown-related threats made against schools in Washington County, according to law enforcement officials there.
Also this week, Philadelphia police were working with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate clown threats.
The Maryland Center for School Safety, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center and Maryland State Department of Education are monitoring the phenomenon.
Schools throughout Maryland have seen people using social media to send threatening messages while posing as “creepy clowns,” the Carroll County school system said in an email to parents.
“It is important to note that both nationwide and within Maryland, these threats have been deemed by law enforcement to be non-credible and unsubstantiated and found to be a hoax,” the school system said in the email.
“Schools and school systems within Maryland are working diligently with local and state law enforcement to address these threats and to identify the subjects responsible for making the threats.”
The school system encouraged parents to discuss “the importance of safe and responsible use of social media” with their children.
“Please remind them not to post, send, or share any material that could be interpreted to be threatening or unsafe in nature to either a classmate or school,” the email said. “If students see any material online perceived to be threatening or unsafe, they should immediately report their concerns to a trusted adult such as a teacher, counselor, principal or school resource officer.
“We all have a role to play when it comes to school safety and security. If you see something that looks suspicious or criminal in nature, please notify your local 911 Center.”