Prince George teens arrested for threatening but 'non-credible' Instagram clown post
Image of clowns with guns similar to other events throughout the country
A teenage boy is facing charges after being arrested in connection with a post on Instagram aimed at Prince George schools that RCMP considered threatening but "non-credible".
The image was a frame from the animated television series Archer depicting clowns with guns and text reading, "Every school in PG about to get hit."
Two teenagers police believe to be responsible for the post were arrested on October 6. One of the teens was released without charges, while the other will remain in custody overnight before appearing in provincial court.
RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass said police became aware of the post on Wednesday night and worked with School District 57 to determine a course of action, ultimately deciding on issuing a code yellow for Prince George public schools.
"This is just an abundance of precaution," Douglass said. "We do not believe this is a credible threat in any way. We believe this is hoax-related and associated to other hoaxes that have taken place throughout the country in the last couple of days."
He said similar events have been monitored throughout the country over the past week.
'Scary clowns' spreading in Canada
A trend of 'creepy' or 'scary' clowns causing problems for officials has been spreading across North America in recent weeks.
On the same day schools in Prince George were locked down, CBC's flagship news program The Current devoted a segment to the phenomenon of menacing clowns.
Earlier the same week, a school board in Ottawa issued a notice to parents about an Instagram account called 'Clowns of Ottawa' which was making posts some interpreted as menacing.
The board told parents it had talked to police, who said it did not appear to be a credible threat.
In August, police in Gatineau, Que. investigated two teenagers dressed as clown scaring children.
Douglass said he did not have reports of anyone dressed as a clown in connection with the incident in Prince George but said it would be something police take seriously.
"Hoax or not, it's not appropriate," he said.
Code yellow lifted shortly before dismissal
Police advised the code yellow be kept in place until shortly before dismissal.
School district 57 superintendent Marilyn Marquis-Forster described code yellow as "a heightened level of alert."
"We've got controlled and supervised entrance and exit. The children are in the school. They're carrying on classes as normal," she said. "Our students are safely in the building."
Students had to stay indoors over the lunch hour, but shortly before 2:30 p.m. PT following further investigation, police advised the code yellow be lifted on all schools.
RCMP ask students to report threats on social media
Douglass credited students for first noticing the post considered threatening.
He said police were contacted by parents who were alerted of the post by their children
"That led to us being able to put a plan in motion," he said.
Douglass said police had contacted Instagram to alert them to the account responsible for the post. The account has since been taken down.
He encouraged parents to talk to their kids about what they see online and to report anything they are concerned about.
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