Two Suffolk County school districts — Central Islip and North Babylon — took temporary security measures after alerting police Friday of so-called creepy clown reports, school officials said.
Suffolk County police said they had received reports of people wearing clown costumes while “acting in a menacing manner.” The department had not confirmed or witnessed any such behavior.
“We understand this may be a social media prank throughout the country, but we take quite seriously all calls that involve intentional harassment, trespassing, disturbing of the peace, and reported activity that results in the citizens of our county feeling threatened,” Suffolk County Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said Friday in a statement.
According to a statement issued Friday from North Babylon Superintendent Glen Eschbach: “The district was made aware that North Babylon High School was one of the schools included in a string of clown-related social media threats made by an unknown person or persons.
“Upon receipt of this information, the high school was immediately placed on ‘lock out’ and the Suffolk County Police Department was notified.”
After investigating, police found no threat and the lock out was lifted at 10:45 a.m., Eschbach said. “However, out of an abundance of caution, the high school will remain in a closed campus scenario where students may not leave campus during school hours,” the statement read.
The Central Islip school district also conducted a temporary lock out because of the clown reports, its superintendent said.
“In an abundance of caution, the Central Islip Union Free School District instituted a lockout. After conversations with Suffolk County Police Department representatives, we were assured there is no imminent threat and the lockout was canceled,” Superintendent Howard Koenig said.
Cameron said Friday no reported assaults nor credible threats have been made to public safety in the county.
“The Department once again is reminding the public that falsely reporting an incident, intentional harassment, threatening of individuals or disturbing of the peace can lead to legal consequences,” he said. “We are closely monitoring all social media channels and calls made to the department. Individuals trespassing on school grounds, other private property or making prank calls to 911 will be arrested.”
The actions at both high schools comes after Suffolk police said they received two reports of people dressed as clowns in North Babylon and Brentwood on Wednesday night.
“Creepy clown” sightings have been reported in several states in recent weeks, unsettling some communities. Since August, people in South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and other states have reported frightening encounters with people dressed as clowns, The Associated Press reported. Just this week, there were reports of sightings in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to The Washington Post.
Suffolk police received a report of a person in clown costume in North Babylon, and a group of people dressed as clowns were seen “jumping in front of cars in Brentwood,” they said.