ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla (WFLA) – Halloween may be just around the corner, but a number of teens have learned the hard way clowning around is no laughing matter.
For the second time in as many days, teens have been arrested for threatening violence at a Tampa Bay area middle school. Earlier this month a 12-year old Seven Springs Middle School student was arrested for posing as a clown online. He allegedly made threats toward the school.
On Tuesday Pasco deputies arrested two 14-year-old Stewart Middle School students for pulling a similar prank. Authorities said the duo left hand written notes in public areas around the school, where teachers and administrators could find them. They made reference to “Sprinkles the Clown” and said, “Teachers are gunna die,” officials said. They also said, “We’re gunna kill you,” officials added.
Lt. Troy Fergueson is with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Fergueson works with the department’s school resource officers. He says a threat like this is a major disruption for any campus. Education and school activities stop.
The response requires an enormous amount of resources from law enforcement. School district are consumed trying to vet these threats out. All threats are taken seriously, Fergueson said.
“Because we don’t know if they’re accurate, legitimate or not. We have to treat every threat as if it were real. The children’s lives are at stake, and we can’t summarily dismiss these threats,” he said.
At Stewart, a number of parents showed up after school activities to pick their children up.
Wanta Myrbel is concerned for her daughter’s well-being. “Because my daughter walks to school, and sometimes I don’t stand at the gate to watch her,” Myrbel said. “So anything could happen at that time.”
Angela Huffman was less concerned. She believes too much time is being wasted on kids simply being kids. “I really think it’s really dumb and it’s taking a lot of the time that it shouldn’t be taking up,” Huffman said.
Holly Jones has a unique perspective. She’s a parent and a teacher. She sees both sides of the situation.
“One side of me says it’s kind of silly; the other side of me says there is a lot of people out there you don’t know what they’re capable of,” Jones said.
Both teens at the center of this investigation were arrested and taken into custody. They each face a charge of second-degree felony written threats to kill or do bodily harm. Both are currently in home detention.