WAUKEGAN -- Greenwood School in Waukegan was placed on lockdown after three people dressed as clowns taunted kids playing at recess and said they were going to come back and “kill them” Tuesday afternoon, according to police. Kids told school staff one of them was wielding a knife and another claimed to have a gun.
The clown sighting was just one of several odd events as the creepy clown phenomenon seen across the nation makes its way to Chicagoland.
Just before 2:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon a University of Illinois-Chicago student dressed as a clown was stopped on campus, cuffed and questioned by university police. They say he was doing a performance art project, so they let him go. The arrest occurred as across the nation, reports of clowns threatening people or chasing people are being called in to police. Sometimes they are spotted just walking around and doing nothing but creeping people out.
Sightings have mostly been hoaxes, but in Chicago Heights Tuesday afternoon the school district was dealing with a threat from an alleged clown made on social media. The threat was discovered on social media Monday, saying "watch out all yall I’ll be at Chicago Heights tomorrow almost all the schools of district 170 are targeted by my clown gang," and ended with a knife, gun and bomb emoticons.
The district wasted no time calling police. Hoax or not, it had to take the threat seriously. But it was quiet outside Chicago Heights schools on Tuesday. No suspicious people or clowns were seen roaming around; just more Chicago Heights police officers.
“Who knows if it’s silly, right? But when you are dealing with kids K through 8 - we are dealing with young kids - safety is first and foremost,” said. Supt. Tom Amadio, District 170.
The police department here says they are searching for the owner of the social media handle.
This is just the latest in creepy clown threats and sightings across the nation. Sightings have been reported on social media and to police in suburban Worth and in Hammond, Indiana. In Chicago Ridge, parents' calls to the school district prompted an email to parents saying in part, it's heard the creepy clown rumors but did not receive any direct threats like they saw in Chicago Heights.
And while parents may snicker at the thought of clowns being threatening, they know any threat made to a school is no laughing matter.