Trash talk during video game play isn’t all uncommon. And, while it’s troubling when the chatter turns sexist, racist, homophobic or extremely threatening, many games and communities have their own remedies: penalties, bans, negative consequences for player reputations. The last thing you’d expect is for someone to wind up in jail. But that’s exactly what happened to 19-year-old Justin Carter after a League of Legends match. He’s been in jail since February.
Carter was playing Riot’s hit MOBA game in February and jokingly responded to another player’s comment. His words, according to Carter’s father Jack, were “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,” followed by “lol” and “jk”.
After seeing the comments on Facebook, an unidentified Canadian woman looked up Carter’s personal information, found an old address located near an elementary school and called the cops. The then-18-year-old Carter was subsquently arrested on February 14th on charges of making a terrorist threat and has been in custody awaiting trial for more than three months.
Many people feel like mass killings like the Newtown shootings are nothing to joke about and any remark that seems to hint at violence at that scale should certainly be investigated. But, according to a petition letter written by his parents, a police investigation of Justin Carter’s home turned up no weapons of any kind. Carter has a hearing on July 1st to review his case and could be sentenced to eight years in jail if found guilty of the charges.