Panic on social media over the threat of a clown terrorizing Firestone High School resulted in a short police investigation on Thursday.
Facebook users posted that the clown — which Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said didn’t exist — was going to target black students with a gun.
“There was absolutely no credible threat,” Edwards said.
The incident follows a clown sighting on the University of Akron campus Wednesday night, when a caller said a costumed man was walking around the South Hall dormitory holding a mallet, which turned out to be made of foam.
Police in that case were able to identify the suspect. A 19-year-old student from Poland, Ohio, was investigated for inducing panic but not charged.
The scares are the latest in a series of local incidents regarding the “clowning” trend sweeping the nation. People across the country have been reporting sightings of menacing “killer clowns” attempting to scare them in public places like streets and the edges of woods. In most cases, police haven’t found the costumed perpetrators.
Police urged the public not to panic over the trend.
“In our jurisdiction, nobody’s been approached or followed or attacked or anything like that,” Edwards said. “It could just be the season or a hoax or some people following this social media trend, but it’s unknown at this time why they’re doing it.”
The national trend started in Wisconsin on Aug. 1 with photos appearing on social media depicting a creepy clown holding four black balloons. A week later, movie director Adam Krause revealed he was the man behind the mask — and it was all a marketing stunt for Gags, an independent film he planned to release near Halloween.
But that didn’t stop reports from surfacing by the end of August in other parts of the country. Pictures began appearing, some arrests were made and all the while, the scares continued.
Clowns come to Akron
Local reports — primarily from teenagers on Facebook and Twitter — claimed menacing clowns brandishing knives were breaking into homes.
Several local police departments on Thursday confirmed they’ve received no calls related to costumed violence.
But there have been calls reporting suspicious clowns.
A woman called Akron police at about 9:40 p.m. Sept. 23 to report two men in sinister costumes swung a baseball bat at her car near Inman and Johnston streets. They didn’t strike her car, but they did scare her. By the time police arrived, no one was there.
Three more reports came on Tuesday.
At 7:20 p.m., a caller said a clown was standing near a car wash on Krancz Drive in Norton.
Another caller at 8:05 p.m. said there was a clown near East Castle Drive in Barberton.
And a third caller at 11 p.m. reported a clown standing at West Hopocan Avenue and 16th Street Northwest.
In all three cases, no weapons were reported. The clowns merely made callers feel uneasy. When police went to investigate, no clowns were spotted at any of the locations.
Thursday morning, elementary school students in Akron told their principal they saw a clown approach a vacant house near Grand Avenue and West Exchange Street on their walk to school.
Police went to the house but discovered it was boarded up and no one could enter. They did not find a clown.
Later in the day, the killer clown rumor circulated at Firestone High School.
Earlier in the week, Akron Police also received a report that clowns were set to convene in Davenport Park. No clowns were spotted there, either.
Social media rumors
Social media users say there have also been clown sightings in Stow and Cuyahoga Falls, but police in both cities said no incidents have been reported to them.
Many of the photos circulating with local social media reports are identical to pictures claimed to have been captured in other cities.
When asked if there were any incidents in Cuyahoga Falls, a dispatcher chuckled.
“Not unless you’re talking about people in chicken costumes,” she joked. “My partner’s got one of those on right now.”
Nick Glunt can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGluntABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ngfalcon.