Clown sightings outside Rogers High School and text-messaged threats from a purported clown placed the campus on modified lockdown during lunch Tuesday.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Puyallup campus after multiple students reported seeing scary clowns in the woods. One claimed a clown had a knife.
“We went out and found some clown masks,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said, adding two masks were seized as evidence.
Extra security was provided on campus, and students were restricted to the high school Tuesday, according to a letter sent to parents.
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In Tacoma, the School District sent a message to parents Tuesday evening, noting that students there might notice increased security at their schools in response to “the national craze of creepy clown hoaxes.”
In Puyallup, rumors about clowns starting flying among students late Monday.
A “clown hunt” in a wooded area of the city was planned on social media. Someone reported a clown had been stabbed in the leg. Several students received text messages about midnight that a clown planned to kill students.
“We believe this is all socially engineered,” Troyer said. “There was no stabbing. Rumors got going. It sounds like this all got ramped up.”
Deputies have been unable to verify reports that 40 to 60 students went searching for clowns Monday night in a wooded area known as Chapman Trail.
However, they were investigating threatening text messages sent to several female students.
The rumors and threatening text messages come a week after reports of terrorizing clowns increased in Pierce County.
At least three people last week reported seeing scary clowns hiding under bridges and peeking out of wooded areas near South Hill and Graham.
Seventeen clown sightings have been reported in Pierce County since Sept. 1. Eleven were within the past two days.
They follow a nationwide hoax that has reached 10 states. The creepy clown trend started in August with reports of clowns trying to lure children into the woods of Greenville County, South Carolina.
Those reports were unsubstantiated. Authorities cautioned people getting in on the craze by pretending to be clowns or going looking for them.
“This is another example of foolishness that has gotten out of hand on social media and is beginning to breed fear and violence,” Sheriff Paul Pastor said. “The social media hype exceeds the threat.
“Let’s get real and ramp this down before people get hurt. There are more important things for young people and for law enforcement to focus on.”