Student arrested, suspended for clown threat at Utah junior high school

Posted at 5:50 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 00:12:54-04

WEST HAVEN, Utah -- A junior high student in Weber County has been arrested and suspended from school after police say he pretended to be a clown on social media and then threatened the lives of other students.

"Honestly it's ridiculous that you have people out there that are exploiting this, that find it funny, that are going out here and pulling these pranks and shenanigans," said Lane Findlay, A spokesperson for the Weber School District.

According to the Weber County Sheriff's Office, a 14-year-old student attending Rocky Mountain Junior High created a fake social media Instagram account pretending to be a clown. He then sent several private messages to four of his friends threatening to shoot and/or stab them.

"One of the students took it very seriously, reported it to the school administration, who reported it to the school resource officer and that's how we got involved," said Lt. Nate Hutchinson, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office.

The student allegedly responsible told police it was all just a joke, but nobody is laughing.

"It is serious, even though someone might not have any intentions to do anything and they are just messing with their friends and joking around, the problem is a lot of people don't understand that," Findlay said.

There have been numerous clown related threats across the U.S in the past few weeks, including right here in Utah.

"I think he was kind of piggy backing on that, thinking it was a joke but it really wasn't," Hutchinson said.

This student has now been suspended from school as well as arrested and charged with four counts of threats of violence. Police initially reported the student had been expelled, but the school district later clarified he was merely suspended.

"While we don't want to say that we are making an example out of him, we will say if these types of threats are made we are going to investigate them to the fullest and we are going to prosecute you if we catch you making them," Hutchinson said.

This is the second time this month that the Weber School District has dealt with a clown related issue. There was also an incident outside an elementary school where a teenager was walking around wearing a clown mask. That student was also suspended.

The juvenile is at least the third in Utah to face disciplinary actions for clown-related threats just this week. A teen attending a Sandy school confessed to making clown-related threats at one school, and in Logan police say another juvenile faces charges in a similar incident.