Clowns target schools, cemeteries, social media

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Pacso County deputies are investigating "creepy" clown sightings as schools were under an alert Friday because of a threat involving the clowns.

Friday night, investigators said at least three clown sightings had been reported. The incidents happened at Grace Memorial Gardens in Hudson, Windtree Apartments in Hudson and in Holiday near Darlington Road.

Jillian Rudin told FOX 13 she visited her father's grave at Grace Memorial Gardens on Thursday and saw a clown staring at her when she returned to her car.

"There was a clown, somebody I don't know if it was a man, if it was a woman, dressed in a bloody face mask, orange clown hair," said Rudin.

Rudin said she screamed and got into the car before calling 911 to report the incident. The clown ran off.

Teens in Pasco County have also been getting harassing messages and friend requests from people posing as clowns on Facebook. Those threats are also under investigation.

Pasco County Schools’ Facebook page sent out a note on Friday notifying parents of the situation:

“As you may be aware, there is a "Creepy Clown" phenomenon that is sweeping the country. This morning a tweet from the "Ain't Clowning Around" twitter site posted a threat about high schools. We have no reason to believe it is credible or that any of our schools are in danger. However, we are not summarily dismissing it and the sheriff's office is investigating. To be on the safe side, all Pasco County Schools have been placed on "Alert Campus", which essentially amounts to "See something, say something." Teachers will continue to teach and all other activities will go on as planned. Thank you for understanding that we are simply erring on the side of caution.”

In the wake of the campus alert, Pasco County Sheriff's Office released the following statement, urging the public to take the clown incidents seriously.

“Over the past few weeks, subjects have been dressing up as clowns.  This is a nationwide event and these clowns are associating themselves with "evil, murder, rape, and violent acts".  Several sightings of these "clowns" have occurred within Pasco County over the past few days.  Sightings have occurred in Hudson, Port Richey, and Holiday. These subjects dressed as clowns are creating profiles on Facebook and requesting juveniles as friends.  In one post, a clown requested that a juvenile meet them at a park at night. We want to caution everyone that these types of acts are not being taken as a joke and are being investigated as threats.”

The sheriff's office is asking people to avoid clown costumes, even for Halloween. Deputies say both harassing someone as a clown and reporting false clown sightings are crimes.

If you have any information about incidents like these please contact the Pasco Sheriff's Office tipline at 1-800-706-2488.