AUSTIN (KXAN) — After several weeks of fielding threats involving clowns, the Austin Independent School District says an Akins High School student is in jail, accused of making clown threats against his school.
Nine AISD schools received threats over the past week, most of which were targeted towards middle and high schools. AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez described the kind of threats he’s seeing: “Some of the threats can be ‘we’ll be at your campus on this date or at this time, we’re going to be there to do harm to people, we’re going to be there to kidnap people.’”
The student, 17-year-old Noah Hollingsworth, turned himself into authorities Wednesday after AISD police issued a warrant for his arrest. According to an arrest affidavit, Hollingsworth started making threats on Twitter via the handle @arnietheclown on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The first tweet at 10:21 a.m. stated: “I am back AKINS get ready” (plus a knife emoji). Twenty-three minutes later, another tweet said “I see a lot of victims” with two knife emojis. Over the course of the next hour, the user posted several more tweets along with pictures from inside Akins High. The last tweet at 11:40 a.m. included a picture of the school’s library.
“They’ve talked about it in class, the teachers have been on edge, the kids have been on edge, locking doors and trying to be extra cautious about it,” Pam Marsh, another Akins Hish School parents said.
Staff members notified the school resource officer that Hollingsworth was the person claiming to have created the Twitter account. Mendez says once they identified Hollingsworth as a suspect and questioned him, he did confess to police that he created the profiles. Hollingsworth is charged with terroristic threat, which is a Class B misdemeanor.
“Its not a game, nothing is a game, you can’t just take stuff to the internet, and think people are going to all think it’s funny,” Marsh said.
Police don’t believe Hollingsworth is responsible for all the threats against AISD schools and he has a warning for copycats. “If you think it’s funny to post clown photos and mention schools, we ask you to stop,” says Mendez. “It’s not funny to the students and it’s not funny to their parents.”
Mendez said the district takes all threats seriously and enlisted the help of the Austin Regional Intelligence Center to track down the threats.
“Just because you post it on social media and you delete it or take it down, doesn’t mean it goes away,” says Mendez.
“I think all those threats have got to be taken seriously because kids can get hurt,” Mike Delarosa, an Akins High School parent said. He thinks the punishment fits the crime.
“I just can’t understand why somebody would think it’s a joke now a days,” Delarosa says.
On Monday, a 14-year-old student was charged with making a terroristic threat against a Houston Independent School District school on social media using the image of a clown. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office said the charge is based on evidence from school district police who have been investigating multiple threats against schools.
Other districts across Central Texas also experienced similar threats, but most were deemed not credible. In San Marcos, Texas State University issued an alert after police say someone dressed in a clown costume grabbed a person at a Texas State University housing complex Monday. The victim was able to get away without any injuries.