An American teenager, from Texas, has been in jail since February after making an offhand comment on Facebook about a video game he had been playing.
Justin Carter was 18 when he and a friend got into an argument with someone over a multiple player online video game, leading the teenager to post a comment he now regrets.
He now faces up to eight years in prison after saying ‘I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still beating hearts’ only two months after the Sandy Hook school massacre.
‘These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,’ Justin’s father, Jack Carter, said.
Although the teenager, who turned 19 while in prison, added ‘lol’ (laughing out loud) and ‘jk’ (just kidding) to his post, a woman from Canada who saw it reported Justin to police after finding out that he lived near an elementary school.
Mr. Carter is now campaigning to have his son released, and wants to teach teenagers about the dangers of posting comments on social media.
‘Justin was the kind of kid who didn’t read the newspaper. 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,’ he told KHOU.
His son first got into trouble in February after he and a friend had been playing League of Legends.
Mr. Carter said: ‘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.’
He added that his son had made it clear that the comment was made in jest.
A woman in Canada contacted the police after a Google search showed Justin’s last known address was close to Wooldridge Elementary School in Austin.
Justin was charged with making a terroristic threat and faces a trial on July 1. A spokesman for Austin police said that after recent events statements such as the one Justin made are taken seriously.
The mother of the 19-year-old charged says his son was only being sarcastic on Facebook. The teenager’s family have set up an online petition – Release Justin Carter – to raise awareness of his case.