PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Philadelphia Police have identified a 13-year-old girl as a participant involved in the clown threats against a number of city schools that were posted on social media over the weekend.
The teen tells police she and a friend posted the photos as a "prank only," and intended no harm.
The menacing posts were discovered by Philadelphia School officials on social media Saturday, referencing clowns, and threatening to kill or kidnap students and teachers.
One post goes so far as to name specific schools the so called clowns plan to target.
Philly Public Schools Director of Safety Brendan Lee says the district is actively working with the police and homeland security to track down the people behind the posts.
"We are on top of all the postings that are out there. We will be ready and we will be acting with a heightened sense of awareness for that morning and the days that follow," Lee said.
There has been a surge of so called scary clown sightings and viral social media posts in recent weeks across the country, along with crimes reportedly associated with people wearing clown costumes.
Just a few days ago Radnor Township Police say someone spread the threats on various social media sites under different hashtags. A similar situation also occurred in Toms River New Jersey.
In both cases police cautioned that the posts were actually a hoax.
Sunday, Upper Darby Police tweeted that they would be preparing a court order for someone posting under the handle @udclown.
The warning seemed to work, and the tweets appear to have quickly disappeared.
Philadelphia Public schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to the holiday, but the district says come Wednesday, it is prepared to handle any security concerns, and asked parents to speak with children and check social media accounts.
The Philadelphia School District and police department say they're working together to ensure the safety of students.
Other local school districts have issued similar alerts.
Philadelphia Police and the School District of Philadelphia have issued a statement.
“The School District of Philadelphia's Office of School Safety alerted both the Philadelphia Police Department and the Office of Homeland Security Saturday upon learning of these disturbing social media posts. The safety of our children and the communities surrounding our schools is a top priority for us and we are taking this matter seriously.”
“The Philadelphia Police Department is actively investigating these social media posts and pursuing those responsible for them. The Office of School Safety will continue working in concert with the PPD to ensure the safety of our children and our schools when school reopens on Wednesday after the holiday break.”
“While there have been similar social media posts regarding schools in other states and in Pennsylvania the PPD and the SDP remain in contact with Homeland Security and will continue to investigate local threats on social media.”