Sean Small, an 18-year-old high school senior, posted a video on his Facebook page that led a fellow student to file a complaint with the principal. The video is from a game that uses augmented reality (AR) gameplay style, allowing zombies to be placed in real-world locations, and the footage showed zombies being shot inside Small’s high school.
Small, a student at Scottsburg High School in Indiana, was taken into custody on Tuesday after another student expressed concern about a video on Small’s Facebook page that showed zombies being shot inside the school.
He faces not only possible expulsion for the clip but also criminal charges that could result in up to 365 days of jail time.
Small asserted that he “meant no harm” when he posted the video, which features gameplay footage from “The Walking Dead: Our World.”
The game uses a smartphone’s camera and AR technology to display zombies over real-world settings, the same approach used by Pokemon Go to display Pokemon in the person’s physical environment.
A female student who saw the video brought the clip to the attention of the school’s principal, Ric Manns. She expressed concern about the content.
Manns reviewed the footage with Deputy Joe Baker of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, and the pair determined that the video “depicted real Scottsburg High School students walking through the hallway along with fictional zombie characters.”
“Such students could not be identified due to the app’s photographic settings,” said Baker in a probable cause affidavit.
“Further, it appeared Sean had used his smartphone to capture the movement of random students walking in the hallway of the school while shooting zombie characters walking in the shooter’s immediate direction.”
Prior to Small’s arrest, his backpack was searched and no weapons were found. Small’s father, Kris, says the school’s reaction is overblown.
“I do this for a living,” Kris stated, according to a report by the Daily Mail. “I’m a counselor, and I work with people who are potentially homicidal and suicidal.”
“This was just a kid posting a video of killing zombies, and unless zombies have constitutional rights in Indiana, CGI zombies at that, I don’t understand what the issue is.”
Small has pleaded not guilty to charges of intimidation. He was released from custody after his family posted bond.
His case is scheduled for a bench trial on October 23, and a pretrial conference will take place on September 27.
Along with up to a year in jail time, the charge can also come with a maximum fine of $5,000 should Small be convicted. Small was also set to join the military, and a conviction could prevent him from joining the armed forces.