Police Warn Clown Pranksters Could Face Criminal Charges
There were several reports of a threatening post in social media involving clowns and Lake View High School yesterday. The San Angelo Police Department is working cooperatively with the school district on this issue. At this time, no clowns have been sighted and no threats were made by clowns. This was not a credible threat. The SAPD and the District will continue to work together to maintain a safe learning environment for students.
Nationally, several people have been arrested in recent weeks for making false clown threats and they face serious consequences. Whether made against an individual or an entire school, these types of threats are against the law. Any person may be charged with “Terroristic Threat” if they are found to have threatened to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
- cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
- place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
- cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
- place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
- influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
Offenses under these subsections of Terroristic Threat range from Class B Misdemeanor to Third Degree Felony.
Any person who uses the name or persona of another person without their consent and with intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person, creates a web page on a commercial social networking site, or Internet website, or, sends any messages by any electronic means with the same intent is considered Online Impersonation. Offenses range from Class A Misdemeanor to Third Degree Felony — charges that can potentially ruin chances for entry into institutes of higher education or prevent licensure and/or disqualify persons from certain occupations.
It should also be known that persons who make a false [clown] report to a peace officer or law employment employee with intent to deceive, is a Class B Misdemeanor.
We ask that parents and guardians discuss this topic with their children so they understand the legal consequences of these crimes.
The San Angelo Police Department will carefully review any perceived threat and investigate incidents on a case by case basis to ensure the safety of the community.