Culprit comes forward after clown scare involving Utah school

Posted at 9:43 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 16:18:12-04

SANDY, Utah - Police stations and schools across the state have been fielding clown calls the past few days, and now for the first time one of the pranksters posing as a clown on social media has fessed up.

"This is the first incident that has a direct link to this crazy clown craze,” said Jeff Haney, a spokesman for Canyons School District.

The clown craze has been taking the nation by storm, and it’s been eating up time and resources for schools and police across Utah.

“It can be a true distraction,” Haney said.

Sgt. Dean Carriger of the Sandy Police Department said most of the incidents aren't intentionally criminal in nature.

“As we look at many of the incidences going on around the country most of them, but not all, have just been pranks,” he said.

But if the public is threatened, police and schools take it seriously.

“We received a report from a concerned parent that her child had received a follow request on Instagram, and it was an account that had a picture of a clown and had a picture of Eastmont,” Haney said.

That Instagram had what the school is calling “threatening language” in the bio. It prompted the school to alert parents and police about the account.

“Also let them know that we would have additional security at the school, and also encourage parents to talk to their students about good digital citizenship,” Haney said.

The school’s recommendation worked.

“Out of the discussion from parents about good digital citizenship came this confession from a student that he had started it as a hoax," Carriger said.

Hoax or not, that student is facing consequences for the threat against Eastmont. Similar clown-related threatening posts online reference other Utah schools.

The school can’t legally discuss what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken, but they can say Sandy police are investigating.

“These things can rise to a criminal nature, something just as simple as a misdemeanor crime or all the way up to a felony depending on what specific language this individual used or what acts they did surrounding the incident,” Carriger said.

Police will investigate screenshots they were given. Police say many people think they are acting anonymously, but say that isn't reality.

“There is a trail, and its gonna lead back to you,” Carriger said.

Haney urged students not to engage in such pranks or threats.

“Think twice," he said. "There could be consequences, and consequences you may not be aware of."

As police decide if the student's actions are criminal, they say people should enjoy the Halloween season but, again, think twice before you act.

Another juvenile is potentially facing charges after a similar incident involving threats relating to clowns in Logan.