Bay Area officials not taking chances with clown-related threats

- San Mateo Police are looking into a report of a possible clown sighting at a popular park during daylight hours.

Lt. Ryan Monaghan said a person claimed to see a clown at a popular park during daylight hours on Wednesday, but waited reported the incident to police until Thursday morning. He said investigators are trying to determine the validity of the report and would not name the park.

The scary clown sightings and clown posts on social media may be a hoax, but Monaghan said the incidents could have serious consequences.

“The activity in and of itself can be criminal in nature ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the type of post,” he said.

For example, anyone caught loitering on school property with intent to commit a crime could be arrested. A person can also be arrested for making a threat online, which would be a felony charge.

The Bay Area has yet to see any arrests related to clown sightings or threats, but numerous people, mostly teens, have been arrested across the country.

Concord Police said a Clayton Valley Charter High School student turned himself in to school officials on Thursday following two overnight posts on social media of pictures depicting clowns on school property. No charges will be filed in the case.

In San Jose, Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District Chris D. Funk said they have not had any clown threats, but contact was made through social media identifying schools in the district in which a clown may appear. He encouraged students not to respond to any tactics. He has also banned clown costumes or any masks that disguise the identity of students.

“We have to have safe campuses for learning and teaching to take place,” Funk said. “If you’re wearing a mask where we can’t identify who you are then that’s not an appropriate thing to wear on campus.”

Monaghan reiterated the fact that they consider the social media posts a hoax, but said they have increased patrols around San Mateo schools as a precaution.

“What they’re doing is really instilling fear in some of our most vulnerable people in society, our children, and it’s just unacceptable,” he said.

Other cities with clown sightings or social media posts include Fairfield, Antioch, Concord, Oakland, and San Jose.

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