Teen held since February on charges related to Facebook comment
Justin Carter, 19, was arguing over an online video game
Father says a sarcastic joke was misinterpreted
Online petition to free Carter has nearly 35,000 signatures
It was a sarcastic Facebook comment during an argument about a video game. And, according to the father of 19-year-old Justin Carter, it was enough to land his son behind bars for months, facing the possibility of years in prison.
Carter, who is currently on suicide watch in Comal County Jail near San Antonio, Texas, has been locked up since February. He faces a charge of making terroristic threats, a felony that could theoretically bring a sentence of up to eight years.
“He’s very depressed. He’s very scared and he’s very concerned that he’s not going to get out,” Jack Carter, Justin’s father, told CNN on Tuesday. “He’s pretty much lost all hope.”
In February, Justin, then 18, and a friend were arguing on Facebook with someone else over the online video game “League of Legends.”
“Someone had said something to the effect of ‘Oh you’re insane. You’re crazy. You’re messed up in the head,’” Jack Carter told CNN affiliate KVUE in Austin. “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.’”
According to court documents, Justin wrote “I’m f—ed in the head alright. I think I’ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.”
Jack Carter said his son followed the claim with “LOL” and “J/K” – indicating that the comment wasn’t serious.
But someone else – Carter says a woman in Canada – noticed the comment and reported it to authorities. Coming two months after the deadly shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the report wasn’t taken lightly. According to court documents, Carter lived less than a half-mile from an elementary school in New Braunfels, Texas.
A search warrant was issued on February 13 and, a week later, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
“I thought it was a joke,” Jack Carter told CNN. “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.”
A judge set bond for Justin C