School locked down after receptionist misinterprets ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ song as threat
A mistaken interpretation of a student’s voicemail greeting triggered a lockdown of several schools in a western Pennsylvania county, and led to the student’s arrest on Thursday.
The prerecorded greeting was the student’s imitation of part of the rap theme song from the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” a 1990s sitcom starring a young Will Smith.
A receptionist for a local eye doctor listened to the message when she called 19-year-old Travis Clawson to confirm an appointment, reports Fox News. At one point, the receptionist thought she heard Clawson say, “shooting people outside of the school.”
The actual words to the song are: “And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school.”
Worried that Clawson was up to no good, the unnamed receptionist called 911. A throng of local police responded quickly. Schools throughout Beaver County were locked down for about 20 minutes, the Beaver County Times reports.
Officers located Clawson in the guidance counselor’s office of Ambridge Area High School. He was taken into custody. However, the teen was released after he clarified the words of the song and the voicemail greeting.
According to the Beaver County Times, Clawson’s voicemail rendition of “The Fresh Prince” was somewhat unclear. Apparently, there was some question whether Clawson had sung the original words of the song as composed by Will Smith and Quincy Jones, or if he did, in fact, change the words into something more sinister.
District Attorney Anthony Berosh told the Times that he believed Clawson’s version followed the original version and that his office would not press charges, thus suggesting that someone in the district attorney’s office actually considered pressing charges.
Acting police Chief James Mann was satisfied with the result of the lockdown and subsequent arrest.
“I believe everyone acted appropriately. Our first concern is the safety of kids,” Mann told the Times.
Ambridge Area Superintendent Erv Weischedel was also upbeat.
“It gave us a wonderful chance to review our emergency procedures,” Weischedel told the Times. “It was a good drill that went very, very well.”
On the other hand, the Clawson family is not as bubbly about the outcome.
Wendell Clawson, Travis Clawson’s father, said the family has sought the advice of an attorney.
“An innocent young man was embarrassed,” the elder Clawson told the Times. “How is he supposed to go back to school and face his classmates?”
Follow Eric on Twitter