New Jersey

3 Arrests in 1 Day in Slew of Clown Threat Hoaxes in NJ: Police

Two New Jersey girls have been arrested in separate alleged clown threat hoaxes, and another New Jersey teenager was arrested in an alleged clown-mask drive that scared motorists on the road, police say. 

In the driving incident, police say some teens wearing clown masks hung out the windows of a black Toyota Tundra while on Route 23 at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, yelling at another driver on the road. 

The Toyota followed the victim onto Route 287, then Route 208, accoridng to police. Fair Lawn police finally spotted the vehicle on Route 3 in Paramus, and pulled it over. 

Officers found two clown masks inside, as well as marijuana and a knife on one passenger, 18-year-old Conner Moreno of Lodi, who was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, police say. He has been released.

The 19-year-old driver, a Fair Lawn woman, received a traffic summons for reckless driving. The other three passengers, all 18 and 19, were released at the scene. 

The two passengers who wore the clown masks told police they were only waving their hands as they hung out of the vehicle, and not pointing anything. 

Later Wednesday, a 14-year-old girl in South Toms River was charged with creating false public alarm after allegedly lying to her mother about being chased by a person armed with a knife and dressed as a clown while walking to school in the morning, police said. 

Police investigated the allegations, which alarmed the community on Facebook, and determined it was a hoax. The girl recanted and was arrested, and she's expected to appear in juvenile court at a future date.

Under state law, her parents will be required to make restitution for expending police resources in the matter, Toms River police said. 

Meanwhile, another 12-year-old girl allegedly posted a threat against Toms River Intermediate East Middle School on Instagram Tuesday evening using the handle "killerclownfromnj," police said.

She allegedly wrote: "I will be there at 8:36 sharp on Thursday, October 6th," then added a series of emojis implying violence, according to Toms River police. 

Toms River police and officers from the high-tech crime unit in the Ocean County prosecutor's office deemed there was no credible threat to the school, but the schools superintendent worked with police to provide extra security measures, officials said.

The girl was arrested on a charged of third-degree criminal causing false public alarm. She's also facing disciplinary action at school. 

There have been similar arrests in recent days of New Jersey teens allegedly making creepy clown threats. Schools on Long Island and in New Jersey have also upped security in response to the increase in sightings and threats. 

"We understand this may be a social media prank throughout the country, but we take quite seriously all calls that involve intentional harassment, trespassing, disturbing of the peace, and reported activity that results in the citizens of our county feeling threatened," the Suffolk Police Department said.

The NYPD, meanwhile, have dismissed similar clown hoaxes as harmless. 

"We're tracking it but we don't see any real threat here," Deputy Commissioner John Miller said Monday. "We have tried to avoid falling into the trap of putting extra police protection or presence in places where we've had these."

He added: "Our main message is don't believe the hype and don't be afraid of the clowns."

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