BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Four were arrested by Bastrop school district police on Thursday in connection to recent clown threats made against schools.
Raymond Guillermo de la Cruz, 19, Ana Paz Simon, 17, and two juveniles were taken into custody. The suspects face a possible third-degree felony charge of making a terroristic threat.
De la Cruz, a 2015 graduate of Cedar Creek High School, was arrested at his home Thursday afternoon, Bastrop ISD said in a statement. He confessed to creating a Twitter account under the name of Pennywise and to making the threatening posts directed at schools in Bastrop, Cedar Creek and Smithville, according to BISD Chief of Police Jeff Yarbrough.
The department received help from the Austin Regional Intelligence Center to track the source of the tweets and identify those responsible. Yarbrough described the threats: “Some of the posts basically mentioned that ‘I’m in the Red Learning Center’, one of our areas of Cedar Creek High School. Another post was ‘I see the police cars parked out front, but too late, we’re already inside.’ One post said, ‘today we’re going to hit Cedar Creek High School, the next day Bastrop High School, the next day Smithville’.
Yarbrough says administrators, school staff and students have been operating at a higher state of awareness in response to the threats.
“While the so-called clown threat incidents here in Central Texas, across the state and the nation have been categorized as a hoax or practical joke by some, the consequence for those involved is certainly no laughing matter,” said Superintendent Steve Murray. “Students, parents, and staff here in Bastrop ISD and elsewhere have been subjected to undue stress and fear. We appreciate the hard work by the Bastrop ISD Police Department, in conjunction with county, state, and federal officials.”
The four face two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
On Wednesday, an Akins High School student in Austin was jailed after admitting to making threats against his school while posing as a clown on Twitter. The teenager in that case was only charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
Austin-area school districts began to see the social media threats last Friday, following similar reports nationwide.