‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ Theme Song Gets Pennsylvania Teen Arrested

This may qualify as the most ridiculous law enforcement over-reaction in a long time:

AMBRIDGE (KDKA) — Schools were locked down in Ambridge, after a perceived threat on a cell phone message.

Ambridge police say 19-year-old Travis Clawson had an eye appointment scheduled for today. When the receptionist called to confirm, she thought Clawson’s voice message said something to the effect of “I can’t come to the phone right now, because I’m going to kill all the (expletive) at my school.”

According to the Times-Online, the message was actually him singing part of the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV sitcom, “shooting some b-ball outside of the school.”

The paper says it’s not clear from listening to Travis Clawson’s phone message whether he inadvertently twisted the words or it just was misheard by the receptionist from his Sewickley eye doctor’s office who sent the day’s events in motion.

The Times-Online says that receptionist called Sewickley police, who then contacted Ambridge school officials. When Ambridge passed the information along to local police, a countywide schools lockdown was ordered because no one knew where Clawson was, and the 911 response system is designed to notify all schools of a situation.

They surrounded the school, and arrested Clawson.His locker was searched, but police say they didn’t find anything.

He has been taken to Ambridge Police for questioning but the newspaper reports he will not face any charges.

Does nobody in Pennsylvania remember the 1990s?

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Fear and paranoia are tearing this country apart.

  2. JKB says:

    Hmmm? You know what is missing from that story? A report that anyone besides the receptionist listened to the message. Forget the 90s, does anyone remember how to investigate?

  3. edmondo says:

    Does nobody in Pennsylvania remember the 1990s?

    As a former resident, I can tell you that the entire state is mired in the 1960’s. They can’t remember anything that hasn’t happened yet.

  4. Mr. Replica says:


    I am from and live in PA. I remember the 90’s. But, I guess since I wasn’t even in high school before the final season of Fresh Prince… my indoctrination of everything 1960’s wasn’t complete.

    That’s far-out, man.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Personally speaking, I would have arrested and then waterboarded for good measure young Clawson for having that inane Will Smith tune as his voicemail greeting, whether altered or unaltered. Merely on principle. Now, having said that, if he had had Ice-T’s (Body Count’s) “Cop Killer” or NWA’s “F*** tha Police” I would have been OK with it. And course if the greeting was Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” or Slayer’s “Angel of Death” I would have given the kid a high-five.

    That all aside, one of the problems with small town police forces is that they’re, you know, small town police forces. This silly episode is Exhibit Z in support of the case that just because people hold the same titles as other people in the same overall businesses or professions do not mean they’re equals. Not even close. The cops and detectives in the likes of Ambridge and Sewickley are not at the same levels as the cops and detectives in the likes of Philly or Pittsburgh. QED.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Why is a 19-year-old still in high school is what I wanna know.

  7. JKB says:


    That is odd, one of the big problems in eastern PA is all the people from New York City and New Jersey who keep moving there. I suppose those people are trying to get back to the future?

  8. Mr. Replica says:

    @James Joyner:

    Either he was started late, or got held back a year or two.
    Would be kind of funny if he was held back due to a overlooked vision problem.

  9. JKB says:

    @James Joyner:

    Economy police finally made contact with Clawson late morning and discovered he was “chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool” in the guidance office of Ambridge’s high school, which then was swarmed by officers who took him into custody.

    District Attorney Anthony Berosh said it was determined after listening to the message closely that it did follow the Quincy Jones-penned song and Clawson was released.

    Berosh said authorities decided not to charge Clawson in the incident. However, Mann said he urged Clawson’s parents to have him change the message.

    Well, he was obviously a gangster. Eye appointments? Chillin’ in the guidance counselor’s office. I love the last, police urge his parents to have him change the message.

  10. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Of course fear and paranoia is not limited to any political POV. Look at progressives are have gone one a massive two-minute hate against guns and gun owners. And it is out of paranoia.

  11. bill says:

    @James Joyner: the “fresh prince” stuff wasn’t enough evidence?!

  12. HeatherRadish says:

    @James Joyner:

    Well, I don’t know about Beaver County, but more than half of the boys I graduated HS in rural Iowa with were 19 at graduation. Parents in that community don’t let their sons start kindergarten until age six because they need the extra year’s growth for football. O_O

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The cops and detectives in the likes of Ambridge and Sewickley are not at the same levels as the cops and detectives in the likes of Philly or Pittsburgh. QED.

    As I recall, Newtown is a small town too.


    Does nobody in Pennsylvania remember the 1990s?

    As a former resident, I can tell you that the entire state is mired in the 1960′s. They can’t remember anything that hasn’t happened yet.

    Well, we used to have this saying back in the 80’s, “If you remember the 70’s, you weren’t there.”

    That said, what the hell is the “Prince of Bel-Air”? TV show, right?


    Look at progressives are have gone one a massive two-minute hate against guns and gun owners.

    Hey dumbsh!t, this is not fear and paranoia and if you ever rejoined reality you would know it.

  14. matt says:

    @James Joyner: There’s several reasons including being held back, having a badly timed birthday in relation to the school’s cut off dates, being a collegiate looking to graduate with associates at the same time (I know one that will graduate from highschool at 20 with two degrees) etc etc.

  15. John Peabody says:

    Police can’t win. At Virginia Tech, they were slammed for thinking the threat was over. In this case, they had a threat, and (thinking of Sandy Hook and others), kicked into overdrive. What, we don’t want police to take action when receiving a threat? I bet lots of low-level threats are discarded every day, and we don’t hear of them. This one got through, and has a newsworthy tie-in (the TV show), and it hits the wires, and the nation laughs at the police for 36 hours. I’m not buying it.

  16. To be fair, “chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool” is the first step along the path to the Dark Side of the Force:


  17. B. Minich says:

    Beaver County is outside of Pittsburgh. The song talks about how Will Smith was “West Philadelphia born and raised”. Pittsburghers can’t stand Philly (and vice versa). Thus, I suspect in the end, this was a reaction to something perceived to be pro Philly propaganda.

  18. @B. Minich:

    Pittsburghers can’t stand Philly

    Most Philadelphians can’t stand Philly either.

  19. Franklin says:

    A couple of receptionists who were up to no good,
    starting making trouble in the neighborhood.
    Then I got one little arrest …

  20. I’m kind of surprised that a 19 year old even knows of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. I’m 25 and I only know about because I saw it in syndication on FOX back when I was a kid.