Always be careful what you say because your words can come back to bite you, as evidenced by the fact that an in-game chat exchange recently got one Minecraft player arrested. A young man from Florida who operates under the screen name “Dalton Barnhart” learned this lesson the hard way when two police officers showed up at his home after confirming that the teen had made threats via Minecraft and proceeded to make an official arrest.
The offending comment, which reached law enforcement after being screenshotted and shared on messaging platform Discord, read: “I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers m15 to school and kill 7 people at a minimum,” a chilling threat which he claims he doesn’t remember specifying would take place at school but doesn’t deny typing entirely. When his mother was informed that her son will face terrorism charges, she protested that “he’s just a little kid playing a video game,” but regardless of the alleged joking context, the FBI does not take threats of this nature lightly.
Bodycam footage of the arrest was released by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office as a means to highlight that “jokes or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law.” As Detective Brian Howard tells the mother in the footage (below), the police can’t know that he isn’t going to be “the next kid” to carry out a terrible mass school shooting in the vein of Parkland or Sandy Hook. The 15-year-old’s arrest is cited as a preventative measure and isn’t the first and most likely won’t be the last to stem from mindless comments made around video games.
While the competitive nature of gaming can lead to trash talk becoming heated, it’s important to remember that nothing experienced in a game is worth making threats of real-world violence, whether they’re intended to be acted upon or not. Hopefully this footage will serve its intended purpose and help youngsters to realize that their actions can have real consequences.