An investigation into a flood of social media posts threatening violent attacks on Philadelphia schools by clowns led police to a 13-year-old girl who says she made some of the posts as a prank, authorities said Monday.
Philadelphia police announced Monday afternoon that their investigation, along with tips from the public, helped them to identify a 13-year-old girl who they say was involved in a series of unnerving social media posts about clown attacks at schools that went viral over the weekend. Police did not identify the girl, but said she is a student at a local school.
"This juvenile indicated that this 'prank only' was committed with a friend at her school and she never had any intent to harm anyone," a release from police said.
Police said they're forwarding the information in the case to the District Attorney's Office for review. Criminal charges could potentially be brought if the D.A.'s office decides to prosecute.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Monday sent a letter to parents regarding the threats, which also mentioned Ss. Neumann and Goretti High School in at least one post.
"All schools will operate on a normal schedule this week unless otherwise noted. Schools that were specifically named in threats have been in direct contact with law enforcement and will have police presence as needed," the letter read in part, adding that added police would be strictly a precaution.
The Archdiocese told parents they and their children should not respond to any of the posts on social media.
The unsettling and creepy clown posts surfaced on several different Instagram accounts over the weekend and named Philadelphia schools specifically, threatening violence, including shootings and kidnappings, at the schools at certain times throughout the week.
The posts quickly garnered attention, stoking fear among parents and students and prompting police and the School District of Philadelphia to issue a joint statement on Sunday assuring the public that they were investigating the threats and taking them seriously.
The posts came on the heels of a number of reports of clown sightings across the country that surfaced in recent weeks, including several in the Philadelphia area and surrounding counties.
Police in northeastern Pennsylvania about two weeks ago said they were investigating in Pottsville after receiving a report that a 12-year-old girl and her friends were chased by a clown, who then threw a stick at them and yelled obscenities before running back into the woods. Last week in Reading, police said a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death after someone in a clown mask may have provoked a confrontation.
Reports of clown sightings have also surfaced in Lower Macungie, Easton, and New Jersey over the last several weeks.