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Marblehead Police Department

School Committee Member Provides Details on Threatening Balloon Incident

Yesterday afternoon, in the hours before the School Committee was scheduled to meet for a discussion of the early termination clause in Superintendent John Buckey’s contract, a threatening balloon with a clown face and what appeared to be blood or red paint was discovered on the property of a School Committee member. The School Committee member told Marblehead Beacon that police had been contacted and were scheduling drivebys of all School Committee member houses to provide extra security.


In the hours following the release of this story, another local news outlet, Marblehead Current, published a statement from Marblehead Chief of Police Dennis King, seemingly questioning the validity of Marblehead Beacon’s reporting, referencing “a report that one of the committee members found a balloon with a red clown face painted on it outside her home,” and stating that “King said the incident had not been reported to police.”


Marblehead Beacon reached out to Chief King for clarification, and received a reply early this morning stating, in part, “I think the two papers are looking for real time reporting from the police department on incidents that we are beholden by the law to not release information on, absent an exception.” We sought clarification, specifically with regard to whether King’s statement was meant to indicate that no incident had been reported or rather that he could not comment on any incident that might have been reported. We had not yet received a reply as of publication. 


School Committee member Alison Taylor confirmed to Marblehead Beacon that she was the individual targeted in this incident, and that the frightening balloon was discovered by her nine-year-old son. She provided the specific timeline of her calls to police, explaining that she first placed a call at 4:43 pm on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 immediately after the balloon was discovered. Since she was running late to another commitment, the officer advised her to call back when she would be home. She did so on her way home, at 7:51 pm, and again when she arrived home at 8:08 pm. The officer who answered the phone informed her that another police officer would be by shortly. He arrived at approximately 8:20 pm and stayed for 30 to 40 minutes. Today, July 27, 2023, a detective reached out to Taylor at approximately 9:30 am to gather further information.


“I am incredibly grateful for the support and responsiveness of the Marblehead police department,” Taylor told Marblehead Beacon. “This is a testament to the many benefits of living in a small town with a strong sense of community.”