Armed police patrol at two Northern Irelandschools after 'killer clown' issues social media threat
Armed police guarded two Ballymoney schools yesterday after knife-wielding killer clowns threatened to pay a visit.
It came just days after a knife was brandished by a group of teenagers dressed as clowns in the town's Riverside Park.
'Killerclownsballymoney' posted on Instagram: "On Fridays I'll be waiting at Ballymoney High school gates at 3.55 and on Mondays it'll be Dalriada at 2.40" fuelling fear in the Co Antrim town.
In a second chilling post, the 'killer clown' warned that he would be carrying knives, forcing police to monitor the schools closely.
The "killer clown" craze appears to have been inspired by pranks in the US and has seen a string of copycat incidents across the UK. It involves people dressed as creepy clowns frightening members of the public. In the most worrying cases, the clowns have been armed with knives.
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said the craze is placing communities in fear.
"What may be seen as a prank by someone can end up in a serious situation and we have seen that in Ballymoney. Warnings have been issued by schools to make sure pupils and parents are vigilant," he said.
"To have police outside and patrolling schools is ridiculous and will put extra, undue pressure on the PSNI. It is worrying for anyone to see such action being taken to protect the public."
UUP councillor Darryl Wilson also condemned those responsible. He said: "Crime is crime, it's the same in the virtual world as it is in the real world. Over the recent days and weeks we've seen it take a more sinister turn and it's starting to impact communities."
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin has advised "anyone who may be considering posting information on social media platforms to consider what they're saying".
"Encouraging behaviour that has the potential to generate fear or indeed posting threatening messages can lead to a criminal record," he added.