Teen faces prison for Facebook post
Don’t let video games and chat rooms get to you. It can lead to unexpected consequences.
18-year-old Justin Carter of Austin, Texas got into an argument with someone over an online video game. Name-calling led to Justin writing this according to his father: “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 followed that with “LOL” and “JK”.
A lady in Canada saw Justin’s comment and notified the police. She Googled him and saw an old address that she discovered was near a school. This happened in February, 2013, a short time after the Newtown tragedy in Massachusetts where 20 first-graders were killed by a lone gunman (as well as seven other victims including the shooter’s mother).
Justin was arrested in March, 2013 and remains in jail with bail set at $500,000. He is charged with making a terrorist threat and faces eight years in prison if convicted. Justin’s father is speaking out to warn teens about using social media. He commented recently that “Social media is not a playground. When you use Facebook, when you use Twitter, when you go out there and make comments on news articles, the things you are saying can and will be used against you.”
Justin’s father explains his son was joking. His parents and friends started an online petition calling for his release. By July 9, 2013 the petition had 100,000 signatures. However, the court will decide his release terms, if any, or keep him detained throughout the legal proceedings. If he is released, there’s a good chance he’ll be closely monitored including an electronic bracelet and home detention.
Update: An anonymous donor posted Justin’s bond and he was released on July 12, 2013. What do you think will happen now? Should Justin be taken to trial for this or should the state settle for time-served? We’ll keep you posted.
This is another example of how important it is to think before you post anything that’s even close to a threat of violence.