Philadelphia cops say a teenage girl and her friend are behind recent “scary clown” threats made against city schools that sparked a federal investigation.
“A 13-year-old juvenile female who attends a local school has been identified as a participant involved in these posts placed on Instagram,” police announced on Monday afternoon. “This juvenile indicated that this ‘prank only’ was committed with a friend at her school and she never had any intent to harm anyone.”
It was quick work by law enforcement, coming a day after the School District of Philadelphia, police department and Homeland Security announced they would investigate posts on Instagram with messages threatening to “shoot” students and teachers at local schools accompanied by pictures of scary-looking clowns.
A police spokesman credited the identification of the suspect to "great police work" and tips from the public.
"Coming to Neuman Goretti on Monday!! Going to shoot all the students and teachers," read one of the threats, posted on the now-deleted Instagram account Clown_of_Philly.
It’s the latest manifestation of a creepy trend that started in South Carolina two months ago has slowly crept its way north revolving around "scary clowns." Part hoax and part legitimate concern, sightings of “scary clowns” have been reported in several states.
"The School District of Philadelphia's Office of School Safety alerted both the Philadelphia Police Department and the Office of Homeland Security Saturday upon learning of these disturbing social media posts,” the School District said on Sunday. The safety of our children and the communities surrounding our schools is a top priority for us and we are taking this matter seriously."
The case will be referred to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for evaluation, police said.
Another, through the account philly_clown.215, threatened a Northeast neighborhood.
"Watch out the gang is in town we coming to Mayfair," a post reads.
Another from the same account stated, "it's time to kill."
Additional reporting by Sam Newhouse