UPDATE: ‘Creepy clown’ threats hit local schools; district, administrators send alerts

(UPDATED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON with message to Denny/Sealth families)

ORIGINAL TUESDAY NIGHT REPORT: Seattle Public Schools says it’s working with police to investigate social-media posts related to a nationwide wave of school threats that accompany photos of clowns. The district sent this message late today (thanks to the parents who forwarded it to us):

The Seattle School District has been contacted by a number of individuals concerned about an ongoing national social media trend related to “Scary Clowns.” There have been a few local news stories related to this and some of our students have received pictures of clowns. We are communicating to families to remind you and your student that if they see suspicious individuals while at school, please have them inform their teacher or principal immediately. We also ask you to report any threatening social media activity that involves Seattle Public Schools or our students to your school or the district’s Safety and Security Office at (206) 252-0707. This office is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

We take safety seriously, and the security of our students is a top priority. We are working closely with Seattle Police Department to investigate all concerns related to this social media trend.

West Seattle High School is among the schools dealing with this – its families got this message from principal Ruth Medsker:

Hello families-

You may be hearing from your students and or the media about threats to West Seattle High School involving “creepy clowns.” This is part of a national social media trend that has impacted schools and districts nationwide. Within the last 48 hours it has come to the Pacific Northwest. Many schools, including West Seattle, are named in various Instagram and Facebook posts. It was brought to our attention this morning by district security and our students.

West Seattle High School administration notified police and currently there is an open investigation. Police have increased patrols in the community.

Please talk with your student about media safety and encourage them to report anything that makes them feel unsafe.

On the national level, this all goes back at least a month, according to one East Coast news publication.

ADDED 2:34 PM WEDNESDAY: The district message above has been sent today to Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School families, according to Denny principal Jeff Clark, and prefaced with this:

Good Afternoon Denny and Sealth Scholars and Families,

Below is a message that was sent out to all families in Seattle Public Schools last night to address the concern of “Scary Clowns” that is happening across the country through social media. Here at Denny and Sealth, we have also been checking into these social media rumors about clowns. To ease any anxiety, we wanted to let you know that we are not aware of any threatening posts related to either of our schools at this time.


Jeff Clark, Principal
Denny International Middle School

Aida Fraser-Hammer, Principal
Chief Sealth International High School

47 Replies to "UPDATE: 'Creepy clown' threats hit local schools; district, administrators send alerts"

  • Double Dub Resident October 4, 2016 (7:17 pm)

    WTF is with these clowns as of late? 

  • Andrea October 4, 2016 (7:28 pm)

    My daughter came home very upset about this.  We were able to calm her down however to hear about all the photos being shared at school of various clowns is disturbing.  

  • furiouskitty October 4, 2016 (7:58 pm)

    My daughter said teachers at her school were discussing it and it made her feel more terrified. During class a group of students watched a video that named DIMS and CS as targets this Friday. She doesn’t want to go to school Friday as a result. I have been working on calming her fears and teaching her strategies to allow her to be empowered and feel safer. But scary mute clowns following kids and mass hyper media discussed at school bum me out.

    • Cassieopia October 5, 2016 (8:34 pm)

        Isn’t it a darn shame that nobody could walk into a courtroom and pull this clown crap. We should have as much security for our kids at school as there is for judges.

  • HelperMonkey October 4, 2016 (8:04 pm)

    coulrophobia is no joke, people.  

  • Westside45 October 4, 2016 (8:38 pm)

    Get a grip. Coulrophobia doesn’t appear in any medical texts. It’s a made up Internet word. People are afraid of lots of illogical things, the number 13, for example. How is 13 going to harm you? Just see the clown for what it is, an idiot preying on your instabilities.

    • WSB October 4, 2016 (9:09 pm)

      These are actually accompanied by threats, not just scary clowns.

    • Sophia October 4, 2016 (11:12 pm)

      1. There are medical terms for being scared, like anxiety

      2. The clowns have made threats. And yes, they can actually harm you. The clowns are people, and people hurt/ kill each other all the time, so this needs to be taken more seriously. 

    • Mike October 5, 2016 (6:21 am)

      https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/cant-sleepclown-will-eat-me-why-are-we-afraid-of-clowns/  it’s real, it’s actually the real term for a phobia of clowns.  My wife creeps out when even the Seafair clowns are near.

      I believe the bigger issue now is the threats that go along with the clown photos/costumes.  That’s the bigger issue.

  • Seattlite October 4, 2016 (8:46 pm)

    Is this some form of terrorism on school systems across the USA?  Who is behind these threats? What is the purpose of these threats.?   

  • ImAmAmamma October 4, 2016 (8:51 pm)

    I’m confused by this.   The clowns are scary looking, but what is the specific threat that they represent?

    • Sophia October 4, 2016 (10:49 pm)

      Not sure if this is what’s happening here, but in other states clowns have threatened school shootings. 

  • Bonnie October 4, 2016 (9:25 pm)

    My daughter came home very upset about this too.  Remember in middle school rumors fly and kids get scared.  They are not adults and things like this can be very scary. 

  • Jeff October 4, 2016 (9:35 pm)

    I really do think we give this stuff too much cred and too much media play… feeds into whatever these dweebs want.  I get that it’s the Halloween season and all, and I like a good joke, but this is so over the top and ridiculous.

    Is there REALLY a credible threat of clowns doing physical damage?  Seems to me that a person done up in scary clown makeup that shows said face in the real  (non-internet!) world is making a big target of themselves… 

    I’m teaching my kids to shake their heads, roll their eyes… and to punch any big red nose that gets too close.  In the meantime, I hope these threats can be traced back to whatever teenage malcontents are responsible.

    • High schooler October 5, 2016 (5:51 am)

      They actually are cause serious threats though. Many of them threaten to kill or stab you, at least what I and many friends have experienced. They say some like “your on the list” or “your the next on the list” It is horrifying getting called to the office saying someone was posting death threats about you and your school on social media. Its hard to focus on school and get work done and not be scared or concerned when death threats are being made. For kids who have a high level of stress or anxiety, this may feel like the end of the world. So please give some teens a little bit of slack.

      • sam-c October 5, 2016 (8:18 am)

        High Schooler,  

        Thank you for the clarification. When it’s called a ‘social media threat’ or ‘social media trend’ in these articles, it’s not really clear what is going on, and admittedly, I didn’t have an understanding of what it was.  All I see on ‘social media’ are people sharing news articles about clowns standing silently (mostly seemed like it happened in NC?), which seems creepy, but not threatening.  Now that you’ve clarified that clowns are actually posting on social media with threats to harm people (vs. standing around silently and creepily and getting reported in news articles), I understand the concern.   Hope it all calms down and people can focus on their real lives, the important stuff, rather than this nonsense.

  • Pops October 4, 2016 (10:05 pm)

    There was a creepy clown waving to kids in Ballard a few months ago before this clown craze swept the nation. He/she lived in an RV and would duck in after freaking out elementary school age kids. It’s interesting this didn’t catch Seattle Schools attention but now it does? 


    What Jeff said.

    • WSB October 4, 2016 (10:15 pm)

      Don’t know anything about the incident you mention but if a local school receives a threat, even if it’s likely some stupid copycat prank, they really have no choice but to take it seriously … I’m not publishing the photos or threats but when a message is sent to parents, we’re going to publish that. (The district did eventually send it to us directly as well.) When the district doesn’t respond relatively quickly, you could have a situation like the one at Sealth earlier this year where a parent asked the admin what was being done about a threat that had circulated quickly and widely among students, and a lack of fast response/acknowledgment made things arguably worse, eventually aired in a meeting with parents, staff, and district officials.) – TR

  • Steve October 4, 2016 (10:12 pm)

    There a lot of scary clowns in the city council and mayors office! 

    • Seattlite October 4, 2016 (10:36 pm)

      Steve — Your comment is funny and true :).


    • Mike October 5, 2016 (6:23 am)

      Ya, but they don’t just make threats, those clowns are the ones causing harm.

  • Ben Calot October 4, 2016 (10:15 pm)

    Human psychology is an amazing thing.

    This seems like a pretty clear case of of mass hysteria fueled by pranksters capitalizing on the phenomenon in real time.

    At least it’s providing some pretty entertaining reading. I don’t think I’ve laughed at the news in a long time. I appreciate the break from heavier topics once in a while.

  • Peter October 4, 2016 (10:53 pm)

    You’re being played, people. 

  • Sophia October 4, 2016 (10:55 pm)

    This is a serious thing. many clowns have actually made threats, and it started with them luring kids into the woods a few months ago. Some of the clowns have instagrams or face books, which they follow kids that go to specific schools on, telling them not to go to school.

    This isn’t to scare anyone or anything, and I’m not positive it is happening in Seattle but it’s happened other places. Also I would take it seriously, you don’t want your child being followed by clowns. Even if that sounds ridiculous, these are real people, and they could hurt you like anyone else. 

    • candrewb October 5, 2016 (5:27 am)


  • Don't feed the clowns! October 4, 2016 (11:09 pm)

    I’m happy students brought threatening social media posts to security and admin, but this is a teachable moment: trends, hoaxes, jumping on bandwagons and believing everything you see on the internet. As maybe discussing the role of the media when this sort of thing periodically occurs  

    My understanding is that no one had been  physically hurt (some luring with candy, but that seems more like a prop to me). And many photos in “Clowns Sighted in X Area” posts have been recycled from other stories far way or are straight from GIS .

    I would never downplay the threat of violence, but in this case I think these clowns (literal and figurative meanings implied) will be on the receiving end  of it if or when they cross paths by someone a little too worked  up about and credulous of  these stories . 

    • Mike October 5, 2016 (6:27 am)

      You just did downplay threats that even the FBI are taking seriously.  With the number of increased school shootings, any threat (even without a clown photo or outfit) is taken seriously at schools and it should be.  A call into the school with a threat is just that, a threat and needs to be taken seriously.  This is why it’s a crime to do such things.  The clown part is no different than the trench coat mafia, it’s a way to get attention.

  • datamuse October 5, 2016 (12:03 am)

    Huh. I assumed it was a marketing scheme connected to the new adaptation of “It” coming out next year.

    • HelperMonkey October 5, 2016 (8:18 am)

      datamuse, you might be on to something! I could totally see this as viral marketing. You can’t trust anything these days. 

  • AHE Mom October 5, 2016 (8:26 am)

    This was posted and I happened to see on my FB thread. On it you can see that Highland Park and High Point are on the list. 

  • Jeff October 5, 2016 (9:09 am)

    Here’s an article from this morning on the “killer clown” issue:




  • Alki Resident October 5, 2016 (9:41 am)

    AHE Mom_ Just one more reason to be armed. 

  • Ruprick October 5, 2016 (9:46 am)

    These comments are hilarious to read.  Everyone’s getting trolled here. Ignoring that, I think it’s time to round up these clowns and deport them. America has been destabilized by clowns for too long. I know there are some good clowns out there too, but we just can’t risk it anymore.  #clownsbegone

  • KBear October 5, 2016 (10:45 am)

    What I’m wondering is, are they real clowns or just people dressed as clowns?

  • unknown October 5, 2016 (11:16 am)

    I for one miss these 2 clowns!

     Image result for JP PATCHES

  • Brian October 5, 2016 (11:25 am)

    This is a traditional case of Moral Panic as discussed on the CBC radio here : http://www.cbc.ca/radio/the180/rethinking-jail-time-for-sex-assault-the-upside-of-opioids-and-a-defence-of-political-correctness-1.3744394/beware-the-clowns-a-lesson-in-moral-panic-1.3744921

    This historically is how parents in the middle ages used fairy tales to teach their children away from strangers (which was based on anti Semitic themes and motives) which were pretty endemic up into the 20th Century. This current trend originates in the Carolina’s and may be the main weapon to keep the current dispute over transgender bathrooms going among the supporters of restricting the LGBT community.

  • Gina October 5, 2016 (11:27 am)

    Unknown, those are the only people in clown makeup that are okay with me.

    Wasn’t there a musical group called Insane Clown Posse? Could this be a market ploy for a comeback?

  • lox October 5, 2016 (11:53 am)

    Meanwhile, some of us with kids as young as elementary students are hearing rumors about it at school and coming home terrified. It’s easy to make a joke, but it’s not funny at all. Especially when a helpless child is in fear and cannot comfortably go about their day.

  • H October 5, 2016 (12:36 pm)

    It’s another form of bullying. A group identification…gang colors, costumed theme, it all promotes a grouping of kids based on fear. Social media accounts for local gangs would be unwelcomed too. 

  • H October 5, 2016 (12:40 pm)

    It’s a little hard to read the comments and story because various crazy images of clowns keep popping into my head but if you dismiss the costume and just concentrate on the behavior, it’s a different story. It’s unfortunate that discussions (at school and will family) have had to include potentially disturbing visual information that kind of just helps to reinforce the disturbing connection. Maybe focus more on strangers following you and telling you they’re going to harm you is never acceptable vs reinforcing the scary image.

  • WSB October 5, 2016 (2:46 pm)

    Just updated with what Denny and Sealth have sent to families.  

  • Double Dub Resident October 5, 2016 (5:54 pm)

    The person responsible has been arrested 

    • WSB October 5, 2016 (7:00 pm)

      If that’s so – regarding the Seattle threats (already heard of an arrest outside Seattle) – I would hope it would be published to SPD Blotter. Nothing there so far, but I’m at a community meeting with those in attendance including some SW Precinct leaders, so I’ll ask them once this is over. – Tracy

  • willbehonest October 5, 2016 (8:28 pm)

    So… has a clown actually DONE anything at all, in any of these national instances?! This is completely crazy and a good example of how social media is totally destroying the fabric of our society. We’re scared of clowns. In August, Entertainment Weekly ran a story on the upcoming remake of Stephen King’s IT and all of  a sudden Social Media a buzzing with scary clowns less than a day latewr. Gasp. People. Chill. http://nerdist.com/see-pennywises-full-horrifying-look-from-the-new-stephen-kings-it-movie/

  • Double Dub Resident October 6, 2016 (4:58 am)

    The clown was walking around the school area carrying a knife.  Take away the clown aspect of that and we have someone walking around the school area carrying a knife.  So I would say yes,  he has done something.  

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