The suspect in this morning’s incident was wearing a gray sweatshirt and a clown “skull” mask, according to a police lookout. It was initially reported that the suspect was wielding an axe; later it was reported that it was actually a skateboard.
Multiple kids reported seeing the “clown.” Police are now searching for the suspect around the park and up and down the trail.
Most elementary and middle school students in Arlington do not have school today due to parent-teacher conferences.
Update at 11:40 a.m. — Another witness told officers that the suspect was a teenager with red hair, whom she saw take off the mask and run off with two other teen boys, according to police radio traffic.
According to scanner traffic, a caller told police that her child saw a clown emerge from some woods in the Arlington Mill neighborhood around 11 a.m. today (Thursday).
“Police were dispatched to the 800 block of S. Frederick Street at approximately 11:36 for a possible clown sighting,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow.com.
“There was a half an hour delay in reporting to police,” Savage continued. “Police arrived on scene and canvassed the area with negative results. An officer will remain in the area conducting extra checks. If citizens see anything suspicious, we encourage them to report information to dispatch immediately at 703.558.2222.”
On Monday ACPD stepped up its presence at schools in response to threatening messages on social media. Despite being exposed as youthful hoaxes in many parts of the country, numerous social media accounts — including the one pictured above — still purport to belong to local “clown gangs.”
Police take these reports seriously. Reporting party was young juvenile. Numerous citizens in area did not witness anything suspicious. https://t.co/hnHh1DtRx9
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 6, 2016
Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.
Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.
The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.
“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”