Windsor Schools threatened with killer clown school violence last week, clown sightings reported since | MyWindsorNow.com

Windsor Schools threatened with killer clown school violence last week, clown sightings reported since

Mary-Kate Newton
mnewton@greeleytribune.com

— A day after Greeley schools experienced absenteeism as the result of Facebook threats involving clowns, Windsor police say schools here saw a similar threat, while residents reported three separate sightings of people in clown masks at night.

"It was a specific threat to do harm after school that day," Windsor police Lt. Craig Dodd said Thursday.

Dodd said the police were made aware of the threat around 11 a.m. Sept. 28, and police worked with school officials to send extra security immediately to schools. Days later, the sightings were reported.

He said the same degree of panic and pulling kids from school as seen in Greeley the previous day did not happen in Windsor, likely because kids were already in school when the police learned about the threats.

In fact, several students Thursday — a good week later — reported they still hadn't heard about the threats.

Sydnee Glassier, a 15-year-old sophomore at Windsor High School, said she was unaware of the social media threat specific to Windsor. She said she was a little surprised, even, to see police officers in the school parking lot and around the school Wednesday.

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"I heard rumors, but really mostly people were talking about what happened in Greeley," Glassier said with some girls from her cheerleading team Thursday.

Devin Johnson, a 17-year old senior, said she has noticed teachers and staff being more protective and alert. She said teachers talked with students about being careful about what they post on social media. Students also were asked if they would be more comfortable with doors shut and locked during class.

"You don't threaten your school or threaten shootings. You don't mess with that here," Johnson said.

Dodd said a suspect in the Windsor threat has been identified, and he anticipates charging decisions will be made early next week. No further information was released.

Police also had to contend with clown sightings in the wake of the threats. Residents filed three police reports about midnight sightings of people in clown masks.

In the first case, about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 30, a person in a clown mask was seen driving a black Chrysler through a neighborhood on the 700 block of 7th street. The driver made a hand gesture with thumb and fingers to simulate a gun, the report stated.

About 3:15 a.m., Oct. 1, two people in clown masks were seen walking down Buffalo Drive, but they weren't acting in a threatening manner.

The last was a call at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when a driver called to report a person wearing a clown mask on the side of the road, and holding an object that looked like a firearm.

In all three cases, police could not locate the masked people in question.

Dodd said though it isn't illegal to walk around in a clown mask, if someone feels threatened, such as in the case of making a gun gesture with fingers, the suspect can be charged with menacing (intentionally making someone feel threatened).

In Colorado, the line between being charged with a misdemeanor or felony menacing charge is the use of a deadly weapon. Even if the weapon is pretend, if a victim is convinced it is a real weapon, the accused could be facing felony charges.

As for the Facebook threats, as is the case with the suspects in the Greeley threat, the person behind creating the Facebook threats in Windsor could also face serious criminal charges.

The cost of clowning around

Windsor police Lt. Craig Dodd said the people posing as clowns in Windsor are likely “copy-catting” sightings that have been seen recently around the country.

“We’re going into Halloween season, so it’s a ripe time of year for scaring people,” he said. “It’s unfortunate people take advantage of it.”

He said threats like the recent ones in Windsor and Greeley, though they turned out to be hoaxes, deplete police resources.

“We don’t want to take something menial and allow it to become significant,” Dodd said. “When the safety of kids is involved we take it very seriously.”

He said that if caught, people pulling pranks like the ones reported in the past week could face criminal charges.