BEND, Ore. - Those “scary clown” sightings reported across the country have spread to Bend – and in one of this week’s two incidents, youths actually caught the culprit. Jefferson County schools, meanwhile, have sent letters home to parents and boosted police presence around schools amid talk of threats to students and staff.
“The city of Bend is not immune to this activity,” police Lt. Clint Burleigh said Thursday.
On Tuesday, students on a Cascade Middle School athletic team not only saw, but caught a “scary clown” while out practicing, Burleigh said. The area high school student did not face any criminal charges, he said, but “the school is handling the situation internally.”
Two days earlier, on Sunday evening, a young Bend resident out for a run in the area of Mt. Washington Drive and Skyliners Road reported seeing someone dressed in a clown suit walking in the neighborhood, holding a hatchet or ax, Burleigh said. Officers checked the area but were unable to find anyone matching that description.
“These occurrences are happening often,” Burleigh said, “and it is important that people stay aware of their surroundings. As people partake in dressing as clowns, and more dangerously, arming themselves, it is important to get this information out.”
Residents are asked to contact Bend Police at 541-693-6911 “if you see someone who you believe is acting in a suspicious manner, regardless if they are wearing a clown costume or not.”
“If anyone feels in danger due to a circumstance with a suspicious person, we strongly encourage you to call 911 so we can handle the situation in the safest manner possible,” the lieutenant added.
Meanwhile, Jefferson County Schools also issued a letter Thursday, advising that “several responsible students and parents” had reported hearing “talk about threats toward students and staff” and that nearly all were similar to the “clown reports” taking place elsewhere, some leading to arrests of students for false reports.
“Although none of the threats appears to be credible, we take these matters very seriously,” school district Safety Officer Darryl Smith wrote.
District officials and Madras police were immediately notified and “a thorough investigation is underway,” he said, as well as “proactively taking action to ensure the safety of our students and staff, including a temporary increase in police presence in and around our schools.”
Smith urged parents to encourage students to contact school officials with any information – and said 911 should be called “if you know of a threat or actual act of violence or potential violence.”
“We also ask that you have an age-appropriate conversation with your child,” Smith continued. “High school students should hear that this would not be a good time to dress up like a clown and be anywhere near a school, and they should not be promoting anything that could potentially cause fear in others. This includes posting or re-posting inappropriate messages on social media. Elementary students should know that they are safe at the school and they can talk to a teacher if they feel otherwise.”
Elsewhere, The Associated Press reported two men wearing clown masks in two different Oregon locations have been arrested for behavior that caused concern to citizens.
Portland police say 55-year-old David Dahlman was arrested outside a school Thursday morning following a report that a man in a clown mask was chasing kids.
Police say Dahlman, who was also wearing boxing gloves, alarmed students by shadow boxing toward them as he stood outside school windows and threatened an assistant principal who came out to speak to him.
Police say Dahlman ran away, was arrested at a mobile home park and charged with second-degree menacing disorderly conduct.
Wednesday night, Central Point police arrested 21-year-old Michael Richard for trespassing on high school property while wearing a scary clown mask.
Clown threats have popped up in schools across the country.