Boy makes joke on Facebook about school shooting, ends up arrested and in jail

Justin Carter

Kids say the darndest things. Sometimes, they even talk about slaughter during a ritual game of League of Legends. And in the case of Justin Carter, an 18-year-old living in Texas, the joke may have just ruined his life.

Justin Carter was arrested for making terroristic threats. It started while playing a game of League of Legends, where he was engaged in an argument with another gamer. The conflict played out further on Facebook, where this other individual accused him of being insane. He retorted with a witty (think smartass) comment, that wasn’t exactly taken as satirical.

According to Carter’s father, Justin replied with the following: “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.” Jack Carter, Justin’s father, retains that his son was only being sarcastic and even included “LOL” and “JK” towards the end of his rather uncouth comment. Some people just can’t take a joke, right?

In addition, Justin’s father says that his son doesn’t pay attention to current news and doesn’t “understand public space.” In other words, it was a moment of weakness, in that the boy wasn’t thinking quite so clearly about what consequences there may be. (I use “boy” loosely here since Carter is 18, which means he is legally an adult.)

A woman residing in Canada disagreed, however. She took his claims very seriously, so she looked up Carter’s Austin, Texas address and searched out nearby schools. There is a school within 100 yards of where Carter resides, so she called the police. Justin was arrested as a result and has been sitting in a jail since March of this year.

Justin Carter’s trial started on July 1 (yesterday), for charges of terroristic threats- if convicted he could spend up to eight years in jail.

While the whole situation does seem to be dire, it happened just months after the Sandy Hook incident, it appears that Carter may actually be a scapegoat here. Carter’s friends and family have started a petition at claiming several poorly executed details concerning his investigation.

The petition claims that law enforcement did not actually look into his alleged wrongdoings. Instead, he was arrested first and questions were asked later. Much later, in fact, because according to the petition Justin wasn’t questioned until a month after he was arrested. Even his home wasn’t even searched for weapons until later that month.

If the police were truly concerned about the issue, you would think they’d conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. If the petition is to be believed, law enforcement did exactly the opposite. This is all despite claims to KVUE-TV that they take all threats seriously, like Justin’s.

At the court proceedings on July 1, it’s possible that more evidence will be made available. We will keep you posted if anything significant emerges.

Until then, what are your thoughts on the whole situation? Do you believe Justin Carter deserves to spend eight years in jail and be branded a criminal for his remark? Let us know in the comments below!

[via CNET]

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  • Tom

    “…son doesn’t pay attention to current news”

    I call BS. Otherwise the kid wouldn’t have said what he did, ill-chosen or not.

  • ewsmith

    [@Ashraf] Probably something along the lines of ‘I plead the fifth.’

  • Ashraf

    I would very much love to hear the police’s side of the story.

  • etim

    It’s society’s fault.
    For making computers so easy that idiots can use them.

  • Briley Kenney

    [@Coyote] I was thinking the same. The whole situation is just a mess.

  • Coyote

    I find the saddest part is that in our legal system he can be made an example. What happened to a fair and impartial jury. Also how is it that a Canadian can turn in a 3rd hand report of a school in danger? Why don’t all the terrorist just call in constant threats while sitting in their warm dust covered homes in the middle east? Imagine the panic and wasted man hours they could take credit for.

  • Louis

    I think we all need to see the whole conversation, starting with the ‘in game’ interaction, and the complete conversation which spilled over into FB.

    Without all the information it’s not possible to say for certain, but if we keep the emotion related to the prior, unrelated, school shooting, we may find that it’s a storm in a teacup.

    Perhaps much ado about nothing …. or NOT

    Let their be a lesson in this, not only to the ‘boy’ : DO NOT post anything on FB in the heat of the moment.

    That’s public domain, if the public can read it, it’s like saying it out loud in public. And if he said that out loud in public, he would very likely end up in the same serious trouble.

    Whatever the outcome for the ‘boy’ (he doesn’t look 18 yet) or not, what the heck is the world turning into :

    An 18 year old boy/man’s world revolves around playing computer games, to the extent that essentially he doesn’t understand anything beyond that, if the father (naturally) is to be believed :

    “…son doesn’t pay attention to current news and doesn’t ”understand public space.” In other words, it was a moment of weakness, in that the boy wasn’t thinking quite so clearly about what consequences there may be.”

    So we have :

    The father is saying his son is an idiot savant.

    The NSA had a short-circuit in their wiring.

    The arresting officers forgot all their training.

    The investigating detective couldn’t find his file.

    The DA must have been out of town.

    Me thinks you’d better lawyer up, buddy, this case against you is be so full of holes, it will fall apart after 1 week.

    You’re still an idiot though, for posting stuff like that on FB — get a life, man !

    There seem to be only 2 sane people in this story :

    While in hindsight it may SEEM to be an over-reaction, what is true is that school-shootings do happen, and in nearly all of those cases there seem to have been indicators that were ignored. So perhaps the lady who reported him deserve praise for not ignoring it, better safe than sorry.

    And the other gamer, who called him ‘insane’ — well spotted !

  • Tom

    What I don’t get was why the NSA didn’t step in and initiate action against this kid, instead of a Canuck. They had live access to his Facebook, and his posting would have triggered keyword monitors.

    What kind of slackers do we have at the NSA? If we can’t rely on them to protect us, must we count on a biddy from the frozen north to do so?