The state’s law on terroristic threats has been upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court after a challenge from a Hall County student accused of threatening a Columbine-like attack.
Devon Major, then a student at Lanier Career Academy, was charged with terroristic threats after a post on Facebook that said he would get “the chopper out and make Columbine look childish.” Chopper is slang for gun, and the 1999 Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colo., killed 13 people.
Major’s attorney, Walker Rick, argued before the court in December that the post was a “statement of frustration” about overcrowding at the school.
Rick argued the terroristic threat statute is vague, overbroad and violates Major’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. He said the state must prove the post was intended as a threat.
Representing the Hall County District Attorney’s Office, Alicia Taylor argued the statement was a clear threat of violence.
“It is well established that recklessness requires a person to act with ‘conscious disregard for the safety of others,’” Justice Carol Hunstein wrote in the unanimous decision. “Therefore, contrary to Major’s assertions, recklessness clearly requires an analysis of the accused’s state of mind at the time of the crime alleged.”
The decision also notes that whether or not Major intended to carry out the threat, the speech is still considered a threat by the U.S. Supreme Court.