Teen Could Face 8 Years in Prison for Joking on Facebook That He Would ‘Shoot Up A School Full of Kids’
An 18-year-old teen in Austin, Texas, has been in jail since March for making an off-color comment on Facebook.
Justin Carter now regrets posting “I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still beating hearts,” to his Facebook in February. But he and his father maintain that it was simply a nasty joke made while playing a multi-player game online.
He claims he was playing "League of Legends" online when he began arguing with a friend.
“Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,’ to which he replied 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk.," said his father, Jack Carter.
A woman in Canada saw what Justin wrote and reported him to police after she did a Google search and found Justin lived near an elementary school.
Justin was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats on March 27 and could face up to eight years in prison.
The Carter family says police did not find any weapons in Justin’s home and only confiscated his computer.
His father is trying to raise awareness of the severe, even absurd, consequences for making comments on social media saying sarcastic teens across the county probably do not realize what is at stake.
“These people are serious,” Jack Carter said. “They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made.”
Justin made the sarcastic remark just two months after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“Justin was the kind of kid who didn't read the newspaper," Jack Carter said. "He didn't watch television. He wasn't aware of current events. These kids, they don't realize what they're doing. They don't understand the implications. They don't understand public space.”
Friends and family members started a petition to release Justin on Change.org titled “Release Justin Carter and Change the Investigative Criteria for Terroristic Threat Laws.” The petition, which has more than 500 signatures, addresses the Texas Attorney General, the Comal County district attorney, and President Barack Obama.
Citing the 1969 Supreme Court case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, the petition states Justin should be released because there is no evidence that there was an "imminent and likely" threat.