School officials and law enforcement in Philadelphia alerted federal authorities over the weekend to a string of threatened attacks against city students by strangers dressed as clowns.
In a joint statement from the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department released Sunday, officials said the Office of Homeland Security was alerted the day before to the existence “of these disturbing social media posts.”
“The safety of our children and the communities surrounding our schools is a top priority for us and we are taking this matter seriously,” officials said. “The Philadelphia Police Department is actively investigating these social media posts and pursuing those responsible for them. The SDP Office of School Safety will continue working in concert with the PPD to ensure the safety of our children and our schools when school reopens on Wednesday after the holiday break.”
“While there have been similar social media posts regarding schools in other states and in Pennsylvania the PPD and the SDP remain in contact with Homeland Security and will continue to investigate local threats on social media,” the statement continues.
The initial warning came from Instagram account Clown_of_Philly, who forewarned of a shooting at Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School planned for Monday in the city’s southside, according to published reports.
“Coming to Neuman Goretti on Monday!! Going to shoot all the students and teachers,” the post read.
A second threat against Northeast Charter High School came from phillyclown.215 on Sunday, however, the user eventually admitted it was a joke.
City schools remain closed Monday and Tuesday in observance of Rosh Hashanah.
The threats are just the latest in a series of creepy clown sightings and reported attacks across the country.
Last month, law enforcement in western Pennsylvania arrested a man accused of prowling around his neighbor’s property dressed as a clown and wielding an Airsoft pistol.
Two hundred miles away in Reading, police are still investigating the stabbing death of a teenager reportedly provoked by a confrontation over someone dressed as a clown. Police haven’t yet determined if the victim or suspect or someone else was wearing the costume, according to published reports.