Heard about a scary clown lurking nearby? Think before you share a rumor on social media

You've likely seen social media posts about clowns in the past few weeks. More recently, you may have seen conversation about scary clowns lurking in woods, possibly in your town.  This followed reports of confirmed sightings in North Carolina earlier in the month.

Is there any truth to this? WHNT News 19 has received several comments and questions. We have yet to get confirmation of this being true in Alabama.

Fake news article

On Saturday night, someone falsified one of our news articles on WHNT.com, creating a fake report saying a clown had been spotted lurking in the woods near a playground in Tuscumbia. WHNT News 19 never posted such an article.

Yet, that fake news image has been shared 257 times as of Monday at 9 a.m. Nothing about it is true, and we confirmed this with Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan.

"We have no reports of clown sightings," Chief Tony Logan said Monday.  "Those kinds of things can create a hysteria. It ties up our resources trying to track down false leads, when we have other things we should be working on."

Social media rumors in Cullman County

There were similar rumors about scary clowns being spotted in Cullman County, where the Sheriff's Office said there was no evidence to back it up. There was even a picture of a person dressed as a clown, supposedly spotted on Highway 157.

"We did a reverse image search. The picture was from Chicago," said a spokesperson for the Cullman County Sheriff's Office.

"It just creates unnecessary calls. Phantom calls. Nothing is there. If we have to send a deputy, it takes us away from something else, like a domestic violence call."

"No one's actually come in and filed a report. If you haven't actually seen anything, don't hit the share button on Facebook," the spokesperson said.

Possible abduction in Neel community of Morgan County?

No, that didn't happen either, despite posts being shared on Facebook.  Sgt. Kyle Wilson of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office says they have no report of a kidnapping or abduction of any kind.

What exactly is true?

Here's what is true.  People have been arrested for perpetuating rumors like this.

Last week, two schools in Flomaton, Alabama went on lockdown due to social media threats involving clowns. Thirty law enforcement officials made a sweep of Flomaton High School and Flomaton Elementary looking for any possible threats.  They found nothing.

A 22-year-old woman and two juveniles were arrested. Makayla Smith, 22, is charged with making a terroristic threat. A judge set her bond at $200,000.

In a separate incident, police in west Georgia charged two people with making false reports for calling 911 to report people dressed as clowns were trying to lure children into a van. Police say the callers admitted the report was a hoax.

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office has also been reporting on an investigation in their area. Monday, they announced an arrest on it's Facebook page. It read in full:

"Billy the Klown" that made threats to "shoot up" Saks Middle school has been arrested for Making a Terroristic Threat a felony offense. He is a 16-year-old from Pleasant Valley.

The Sheriff's Office will continue to follow-up on leads to pursue charges against all the threats made by these clowns.

Matthew Wade
Chief Deputy