A teenager from Austin, Texas, was arrested and charged with making a “terroristic” threat over a violent joke he made about a school shooting on Facebook. He faces up to eight years in prison for the ill-advised joke that was sarcastic in nature, according to the teen’s father.
Justin Carter, 18, was arguing with someone on Facebook about the online video game “League of Legends” when that person reportedly called him insane. Carter responded with a joke that he surely wishes he could take back as he has reportedly been in jail since March.
Jack Carter said his son 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.” The next two things he wrote were “lol and jk,” the father told KHOU-TV.
“In light of recent situations, statements such as the one Justin made are taken seriously,” an Austin police detective reportedly said in a statement.
Jack Carter claims it is clear that the 18-year-old was being entirely sarcastic because he followed up the joke with “lol” and “jk” — meaning “laughing out loud” and “just kidding.
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…[B]ut police didn’t think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.
Justin’s dad says the woman did a Google search and found his son’s old address was near an elementary school and she called police. Justin Carter was arrested the next month and has been jailed since March 27. He’s charged with making a terroristic threat and is facing eight years in prison, according to his dad.
“These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” added Carter.
Unfortunately for Justin his comments came only two months after dozens of youngsters were killed in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut back in December of 2012.
Friends and family have set up an online petition they’re hoping will bring more attention to Justin’s case and possibly bring changes to the way “terroristic threat” charges are interpreted.
“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,” said Jack Carter.
The father also issued a warning to other kids who may not understand the implications of online messaging and social media.
“If I can just help one person to understand that social media is not a playground, that when you go out there into social media, when you use Facebook, when you use Twitter, when you go out there and make comments on news articles, and the things you are saying can and will be used against you,” he added.
This story has been updated for clarity.
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)