CINCINNATI - All at once, over the span of just a few hours, Greater Cincinnati's growing clown problem seemed to boil over.
It happened Friday as concern mounted in local communities and law enforcement and government agencies were forced to respond to multiple episodes of clown-related mischief – the latest and strangest nationwide trend in crime.
Montgomery police reported Friday evening five Sycamore students were arrested in connection with the threats. According to police, the students were arrested after suggesting a clown organization, called "Clown Clan," go to their schools. The students are being charged with inducing panic.
This follows the earlier arrest of two juveniles – one Thursday night in Colerain Township for a threat against the high school there, and one Friday in Miami Township for a threat against Milford High School. At least seven separate municipalities responded to clown-related threats this week.
Some jurisdictions are adopting a proactive approach to the clown problem by warning parents and residents of possible consequences for criminal activity.
Colerain police said the suspect there threatened to harm students at Colerain High School on Friday. Miami Township police said the suspect they arrested was a "copycat" offender mimicking other clown threats made recently.
Reading High School and Mount Notre Dame High School were closed Friday as a precaution following an attack by a man reportedly outfitted in clown garb. The suspect allegedly grabbed a woman's throat and threatened her before making a vague threat against Reading High School. The incident occurred around 4 a.m.
Reading police said Kim Youngblood was smoking a cigarette on her porch at South Terrace Apartments when the clown appeared.
"I thought it was just a person that came up behind and grabbed me around the neck, and it turned out to be a person dressing as a clown," Youngblood told 911 dispatchers. "And the person was making threats against the Reading School District, and making threats against me telling me that he was going to kill me."
Youngblood told police the male fled after an alarm went off in a nearby apartment. The male grabbed Youngblood's throat harder for a second before fleeing, police stated in a release.
“He said that there were going to be teachers and students who were going to be sorry that they were ever born,” Youngblood said.
The male suspect was reportedly wearing a striped outfit, red wig and white clown mask.
Sharonville police, who investigated a clown sighting earlier this week, said Friday in a Facebook post they were posting officers at schools in response to a threat from "Dexter Tha'Clown."
Officials in Fairfield Township and Sycamore Township announced Thursday and Friday, they were investigating threats made against their respective schools.
"As you may be aware, there has been a recent rash of threats involving people dressed as creepy clowns across the country," Sycamore principal Doug Mader wrote in a letter to parents. "In recent days, several local school districts have even cancelled school while investigators determine if the threats are serious."
The threats began rolling in Tuesday. Gallatin County Schools in Northern Kentucky had heightened security after a "vague threat of violence." The threat stemmed from Facebook conversation screenshots with individuals dressed as clowns in their profile pictures.
In an attempt to get ahead of the clown creeps, Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said in a Friday morning press release that anyone involved in clown-related criminal activity would be arrested and charged accordingly.
“We have added patrols and deputies at various schools and bus stops throughout the county," Jones said in a press release. "I just want to make those who decide to partake in this malicious activity aware, you will go to jail. This will eliminate the element of surprise when you get arrested.”
Jones is also encouraging the public to report any suspicious activity. Butler County didn't report any threats as of Friday afternoon.
Cincinnati Police Department spokesman Lt. Steve Saunders said the city hadn't received any clown-related reports as of about 10:30 a.m. He cautioned would-be creepy clowns thusly: "Wear the clown masks at your own risk."
Brett Milam and Cameron Knight contributed to this report.