It appears that many Bossier residents were shook after the social media frenzy of “creepy clowns” threatening violence on schools, teachers and students, especially with Halloween right around the corner.
But law enforcement officials say there is no need to be worried.
“For now it’s business as usual, we want people to go about their daily routines. Don’t let the fear factor take over unnecessarily. We’re staying on top of this,” said Bill Davis, Bossier Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
“We hope we can put people’s fears to rest by telling everyone that as a law enforcement agency, we’re working with the Sheriff’s Office and neither agency has found credible evidence there is a faction with the intention of harming people,” said Bossier City Public Information Officer Mark Natale.
“This appears to be just a very cruel, widespread hoax that’s spreading on social media all across the nation,” he added.
Three Bossier Parish students, a 15-year-old and two 14-year-olds were arrested for terrorizing after making “creepy clown” threats following the social media outbreak. Those threats appear to be isolated incidents.
“There was a threat at a particular high school to shoot it up, another was to blow up the homecoming parade and one to assassinate a local coach and his family,” Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington revealed in a news conference last week. “We’re not playing. This is serious business…I just don’t think they realize how serious it is.”
In light of these social media threats and arrests, Bossier Schools and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office are monitoring all Bossier Parish campuses for any activity that raises concern. Heightened security efforts have been put into place to ensure the safety of students and employees.
Assemblies are also being held and informational videos are being broadcast at every Bossier Parish high school to emphasize the serious repercussions associated with participating in this kind of online activity.
Bossier Schools is asking parents to be mindful of their children’s social media accounts, posts, and profile photos that may include a person dressed as a clown.
“Making terroristic threats is a felony and can affect an individual’s ability to join the military, being offered scholarships or receiving federal financial aid to attend college,” said a news release by Bossier Schools. “By having this important conversation with your child, and communicating any suspicious activity to law enforcement, we hope to curtail the creepy clown craze and focus on education.”
Natale said Bossier City police received a call last week of two individuals in south Bossier walking down the street in clown costumes, but officers found nothing.
He warns it is against state law to wear masks, hoods or facial disguises of any kind in public places, with the exception of Halloween or Mardi Gras.
“If you are in a public place and you are wearing a mask or have face paint on, there’s a state ordinance that prohibits that. So think twice if you’re wanting to play a joke,” Natale said.
And despite the dark tones of Halloween, parents can fear not when taking their kids to Fall Fairs or to get candy from neighbors.
During his 15 years on the job, Natale said there have been no violent incidents.
“You’ll have individuals who pull pranks, but anything of a serious nature, I’ve been here for 15 years and have not seen any major incident result from Halloween,” he said. “We’ve had a pretty good track record as far as safety goes. But we urge parents when taking kids to an event, be there or have a responsible adult present.”
Lastly, he warned some trick-or-treaters may want to rethink their costumes this year.
“Individuals who are thinking about dressing up as clowns, particularly scary clowns, they may want to reconsider considering what is going on.”