Law enforcement respond to creepy clown reports in West Michigan

Posted at 6:58 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 19:13:03-04

WEST MICHIGAN -- The disturbing trend of people posing as clowns and threatening communities is reoccurring in West Michigan and affecting several schools, flooding local police departments with concerns.

“Whether it’s a clown or anything else, we always encourage our citizens if there’s something suspicious call us, that’s what we’re here for," said Kentwood Deputy Police Chief Donald Tuuri.

Tuuri and other Kentwood officers are one of the latest local police departments investigating creepy clown threats. Tuuri says the best response to seeing something suspicious is to report it immediately.

“We’ve had two [Facebook] threats made against [two] schools, both of them are currently being investigated," said Tuuri. "Both of them have been determined not to be credible threats, but the threat in and of itself is a crime.”

Many of these threats continue to be made on social media. An Instagram account postedearlier this week naming four West Ottawa and Holland Public Schools. West Ottawa Public School's Superintendent would not give FOX 17 a comment. Holland Public Schools shared a statement on their website. Due to the threat, Holland Public Schools had all district buildings on alert and ready with procedures to handle anything suspicious.

Meanwhile, Patrick McDowell from Grandville organized a public Facebook event, Not Clowning Around, as a sort of neighborhood watch group to report suspicious clown activity.

“It’s just not right, even if it’s a joke," said McDowell. "If it’s not a joke, it doesn’t matter, this thing has gotten out of hand.”

McDowell told FOX 17 he's raising awareness in an effort to keep the community safe.

“I’m not saying go try to hunt a clown. Just have your eyes open, be aware of what your surroundings are," he said.

Tuuri says while law enforcement support neighborhood watch groups, he asked people not to seek out suspicious activity. Again, if you see something, call police.

Meanwhile Thursday morning, Gull Lake Schools were locked down after police received a call of a possible threat. Sometime before 11 a.m., two students and a teacher told police they thought they saw a man walking near a school, possibly with a gun.

Effectively, all buildings on the Richland campus were put on lock-down momentarily, though the high school stayed locked down after getting additional information about "clowns and weapons" in the building. Police found nothing in either case. School officials are not releasing further information as of Thursday evening.

Grandville Police also advised schools to go on a "soft" lock-down earlier Thursday, to keep students inside the buildings, due to a report of a creepy clown sighting.