MERIDIAN -- The Meridian Police Department is sick of the clown hype.
Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea had strong words for would-be creepy clowns and those feeding into the panic in the wake of social media threats that caused a stir at Heritage Middle School Tuesday.
According to Basterrechea, a person claiming to be a clown posted online that he planned to go to the middle school Tuesday and harm anyone who wasn't following him on Instagram. The threat prompted an email from school officials to parents Tuesday, promising Heritage Middle administrators "have done everything in our power" to make sure students will be safe.
Basterrechea said the police department found there was "no validity" to the threat. A school resource officer is at the middle school to further ensure student safety he said.
The deputy chief said people need to stop participating in the clown frenzy in order for it to die out.
"Our message is ignore the clowns," he said. "If 10 of them get out of a VW bug, ignore it."
Ignore the clowns!— Meridian Police Dept (@PoliceMeridian) October 4, 2016
The department has received a number of clown-related calls recently, Basterrechea said, but none of them have been borne out as legitimate. Law enforcement in Nampa, Twin Falls, Mountain Home and other communities around Idaho have also dealt with reported clown sightings.
Basterrechea also had a warning for anyone who thinks it would be funny to pretend to be a deranged circus performer in order to get a reaction.
"Don't be an idiot," he said. "All they're doing is creating unnecessary panic in some people and unnecessary work for other people."
Click above to watch Basterrechea's interview on the News at Four.