FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — A Fontana teenager was arrested Wednesday as authorities issued warnings about people dressed as clowns and making threats towards residents in multiple Southern California cities.
Fontana police said the 14-year-old suspect was identified as the “FontanaKillerClown” on social media.
The teen claimed “his intention was to scare people and see how many followers he could obtain on his social media site,” according to a press release by the Fontana Police Department.
A statement on the Facebook page for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lancaster Station noted at least three incidents of “a group of males…wearing clown masks and possibly carrying a kitchen knife, approaching several pedestrians.”
“In all three incidents, there was nothing taken from the victims and it appears that the group of suspects is only trying to scare the victims,” the statement said.
It wasn’t known whether the mask-wearing men were adults or juveniles, authorities said.
The sheriff’s department also warned residents to “stay aware of their surroundings” after dozens of “scare tactic” style videos were posted online.
Also posted online was a video showing dozens of students at Cal State Northridge running away from a reported clown sighting.
One person tweeted: “My friend was just chased by a clown at the Dorms!!! #CSUN”
The advisories were issued on the heels of earlier reports of unconfirmed clown sightings and possible hoaxes in Murrieta and Temecula.
An Instagram page – one of many dedicated to clown threats and sightings – has also popped up with photos of several Southern California locations, including Carson High School and the Arthur Johnson skate park in Gardena, along with the following caption: “We will be invading Los Angeles, Carson, Culver City, Torrance, Crenshaw, Inglewood, Pasadena, Compton, Lakewood, Palmdale etc. !! be ware (sp)”.
One post featuring a clown next to a “Free Hugs” graffiti sign says, “Going to Carson high school tomorrow”.
Even with more than three weeks left until Halloween, some school officials are issuing guidelines on how to deal with clown sightings, including Syracuse University, which warned students in a public safety memo (PDF) against committing “any physical attack or harassment” against anyone seen wearing a clown mask or costume.
“Since wearing a costume is not a crime, any physical attack or harassment on such person could be a crime”, the memo stated.
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