This developing story was updated Sept. 21 at 2:05 p.m.
Two Red Bank Middle School students are responsible for a threat that circulated on social media Tuesday night and claimed a clown would shoot up schools in Red Bank, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
The two boys, who will not be identified because they are juveniles, are charged with disorderly conduct, conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct and filing a false report.
Both Red Bank Middle School and Red Bank High School were open as normal Wednesday after investigators determined the clown threat did not pose a credible danger to students, sheriff's spokesman Matt Lea said. Several students received the threats on their cellphones through social media Tuesday night, he said.
The schools opened because there was no credible evidence that a shooting would actually occur, Lea said. The two boys are charged in juvenile court and have been released to their parents' custody. Investigators have seized all of the boys' electronic devices as evidence, Lea said.
There have been reports of people dressed as scary clowns across the region in recent days, including reports in Grundy County and in Fort Oglethorpe. Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum said Tuesday the reports in his area were found to be false.
Chattanooga police also responded to a clown-related issue Tuesday after a Facebook page featuring a creepy character called the "Chattanooga Klown" was created over the weekend. On the page, the character threatened to kill children at bus stops.
Police said that page also does not present a credible threat to the public.
All agencies said they take reports of suspicious clowns seriously and warned that anyone who dresses up as a clown with the intent to scare, lure or attack other people will be prosecuted.
Law enforcement also warned that anyone who falsely reports a scary clown sighting will face criminal charges.
"With prior incidents involving clowns in other states, I want to make it very clear that we will not tolerate people in our community dressing up as clowns and threatening our children or their safety," Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said. "I want to encourage parents to speak with their children and let them know that it is not a joke to threaten their classmates or their school and there are legal repercussions for those who do."
In Athens, Ga., police said a fearful 11-year-old girl who took a knife to school told officers she needed the weapon to fend off clowns.
The Athens Banner-Herald reported the girl was arrested Fridayat Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens amid reports and social media posts about clowns frightening children in Georgia and other states.
An Athens-Clarke County police report states the girl said she needed the knife to protect her and her family because she had heard the stories about clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children.
Police say they released the girl to her mother on a charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds.
In neighboring Alabama, law enforcement officials are warning that people involved in a rash of creepy clown hoaxes across the state could be prosecuted.
Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.