CNN adds that Justin Carter, 19, is “currently on suicide watch in Comal County Jail near San Antonio, Texas” where he’s been locked up since February. If convicted, NPR reports, the third-degree felony carries up to 10 years in prison in Texas.
“Without getting into the really nasty details, he’s had concussions, black eyes, moved four times from base for his own protection,” Carter’s father, Jack, tells NPR. “He’s been put in solitary confinement, nude, for days on end because he’s depressed. All of this is extremely traumatic to this kid. This is a horrible experience.” CNN reports his father saying that his son is “very scared and he’s very concerned that he’s not going to get out. He’s pretty much lost all hope.”
Carter’s family is trying to get the 19-year old’s $500,000 bail reduced because of what they say he’s going through. “I have been practicing law for 10 years, I’ve represented murderers, terrorists, rapists. Anything you can think of,” Carter’s attorney, Don Flanary, told NPR. “I have never seen a bond at $500,000.”
Flanary got a new hearing scheduled for July 16, said CNN, in light of the alleged abuse and to get the bond lowered so Carter can go home to await trial.
It all started after Carter was arguing with someone on Facebook about the online video game “League of Legends” when that person reportedly called him insane.
Court documents indicate Carter replied with: “I think Ima shoot up a kindergarten / And watch the blood of the innocent rain down/ And eat the beating heart of one of them,” NPR reports.
The next two things he wrote were “lol and jk,” Jack Carter told KHOU-TV, but NPR says his son’s follow-up comments are disputed by police. A search warrant was issued on February 13, CNN says, and a week later a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
NPR adds that police in New Braunfels, Texas, who have investigated the case, acknowledge the “unfortunate” nature of Carter’s case but add they have little choice these days. “We have to … protect the general public and specifically, in this case, with it involving schoolchildren, we have to act,” said Lt. John Wells. “We take those very seriously.”
Flanary told CNN police didn’t find any weapons or other items indicating Carter’s comment was serious, but “in the times we’re living in, it was kind of a perfect storm.” According to court documents, Carter lived less than a half-mile from an elementary school in New Braunfels, Texas.
Carter’s dad tells NPR that his son is “really sorry. He just got caught up in the moment of the game and didn’t think about the implications.”
A Change.org petition titled “Release My Son Justin Carter – in Jail for a Facebook Comment” has received more than 45,000 digital signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Too many teenagers are being arrested, jailed and having their lives forever altered because of anti-terrorism laws and investigations that impede their 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech,” reads the petition.
When Carter got word his son was in trouble, he tells CNN he “thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe the person that called me. I kept telling them they have to be kidding. When I realized he wasn’t, I literally broke down crying.”
Here’s a news report from WJLA-TV: