By Jennifer Lindgren


Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

ROCKWALL (CBSDFW.COM) – A student in Rockwall was arrested Tuesday after a clown hoax. According to officers, the student threatened a middle school, and police are taking these pranks seriously. Whether the threats are real or simply scary jokes, clowns are no laughing matter right now.

Photographs posted online from across the country have prompted police to issue warnings and step up patrols in many cities, including some in North Texas. The online pictures show people dressed as creepy clowns, and are accompanied by threats of violence.

For the most part, authorities believe that pranksters are behind the scary clown pictures. But certain threats, against schools in particular, can be prosecuted as felonies. At least 12 people across the country have been arrested for participating in these stunts or filing false reports.

A student in Rockwall joined that list on Tuesday after being charged with making a terroristic threat for a hoax that he or she posted on social media about Utley Middle School. Police have not discussed exactly what was posted, but have confirmed that the threat was not credible.

With the attention that these clown hoaxes have received, police in Rockwall called the incident unsettling. A school resource officer was first told about the threat on Tuesday, and others who see or hear similar threats should report them to authorities as well.

Police and school officials in Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth, Southlake, Mesquite and Keller have all also explained that they are on alert for clown threats, and will investigate all leads. And with Halloween approaching, authorities are asking people to not dress up as clowns, even just for fun. It could be dangerous for those inside of the costumes. A teenager wearing a clown mask in Pennsylvania was recently stabbed to death during a dispute.

Jennifer Lindgren