FOX 32 NEWS - A wave of clown threats and sightings swept across the Chicago area on Tuesday.
Clown masks are flying off the shelves in some Halloween stores as people glom on to the phenomenon of scary clowns. Twenty-six states have now reported cases of people making social media threats with clown usernames, or dressing up in clown masks and scaring people.
A 14-year-old freshman at Lincoln Way Central High School in New Lenox was arrested after he posted a picture of the school on Instagram Monday night using the name “LincolnWayCentralClowns” and wrote "Looks like a good school to kidnap and kill." He was arrested at school Tuesday.
“He had heard rumors about clowns being on paths in the area so he thought it would be a joke and didn't think anybody would take him serious,” said Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson with the Will County Sheriff's Department.
News of the threat spread quickly at the high school.
“It's really just an awful thing to do, people shouldn't be doing it even if they think it's just like a funny thing,” said sophomore Ennis Lang.
In Chicago, police said parents walking kids to Earle Elementary reported that a person in a clown mask harassed and chased them Tuesday morning.
At Greenwood Elementary in Waukegan, kids told police three people in clown masks taunted them over a fence during recess. One had a knife, another a briefcase and the third appeared to have a gun in their pocket.
Some parents gearing up for Halloween worry about people who will be trick-or-treating as clowns.
“I think mostly because you don't really know if it's a kid having fun or if it's somebody who is really being a menace to the neighborhood,” said concerned parent Adrienne Hannigan.
Social media seems to be feeding the clown frenzy, and while police are taking these situations seriously, not everyone is.
“I really am not going to take it seriously, because think about it, it's a bunch of idiots in costumes, that's all it is. They just want attention,” said Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Scott Ward.
The 14-year-old freshman who was arrested will face school discipline and his case will be reviewed by the Will County State’s Attorney’s office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.