Tyler Hill, the spokesman for the Weld County district attorney’s office in Colorado, never thought he would pen a press release like the one he put out today.
Complete with references to the ’80s B-movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Ronald McDonald, and even sewer drains and Pennywise, the iconic scary clown from the Stephen King novel “IT,” Hill’s government release ran the gauntlet of American clown culture before careening into a serious alert involving local law enforcement.
It turns out the so-called creepy clown phenomenon, in which people from state to state have dressed in Bozo attire and terrorized their neighbors, has officially hit Colorado.
From the official Weld County District Attorney’s office release:
Let’s face it, Hollywood has ruined the happy-golucky Clown for many: Poltergeist, Saw, Twisty…even the 1980’s horror comedy Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
We see now why McDonalds has slowly distanced itself from Ronald McDonald.
But now it seems these scary clowns are horrifying more than just our dreams. They’re disrupting our normal lives. Sinister clowns are plaguing the country. In Greenville, S.C., clowns were attempting to lure children into the woods.
In Alabama, seven clowns are now facing felony charges for making terroristic clown threats. In North Carolina, one clown wielded a machete while walking through the woods near an apartment complex. It’s no joke.
All these instances lead us to Greeley, where school officials and law enforcement worked overnight to put clown threats to rest.
It started on Facebook. Greeley Police say the post threatened a shooting on Halloween night. It quickly turned into a viral event, claiming clowns would carry out shootings at two Greeley schools. The case is still under investigation, but police think they’ve pinned it down to a 15-year-old student.
Reached by phone this afternoon, spokesman Hill confirmed the release is real.
“It’s legit,” he said. “I’d never written one like that before, but I was like ‘this is insane.’ Typically press releases are pretty cut and dried.”
Hill said workers in the Weld County DA’s office had been paying attention to various creepy clown sightings from around the country and had discussed whether they might address it in a hypothetical here’s-what-to-look-out-for scenario. In fact, at least one of these publicized clown sightings has been a hoax. A South Carolina woman was arrested just last week after police say she made up reports of seeing clowns in her city.
But the red-nosed reality hadn’t yet hit the rural Colorado county north of Denver.
But then, “sure enough it happened in Greeley schools,” Hill told The Colorado Independent.
To be clear, there have not been any actual sightings reported in Weld County of misbehaving men or women decked out in colorful wigs, big shoes or scary masks. So far it’s just the Facebook threat.
“All this started last night,” Hill says.
Once local government officials noticed the Facebook post, word bounced around the inboxes of county workers.
In a separate release sent out this morning to families of District 6 students in Weld County, Hill wrote:
A number of students potentially involved in this incident have been interviewed and the investigation is continuing. We are closely monitoring the situation and working with law enforcement. As you probably already realize, all schools are open today. We have extra vigilance and security in place. We will share updates with our families when we get more information.
Please understand we take this threat and any threat seriously. There is no indication this is a credible threat at this time. This, unfortunately is part of a national trend of similar incidents across that nation. These posts are apparently being made to cause fear and disruption. But that doesn’t mean we take it any less seriously.
He further said he understood some parents chose to keep their kids out of school because of the news.
“Those absences will be excused and your children will be allowed to make up any work they missed,” he wrote.
So it turns out clowns might make some kids happy after all.
Photo by davocano for Creative Commons in Flickr.