LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Scottsburg High School senior faces an intimidation charge and may be expelled after posting video of an augmented reality game in which players shoot zombies in real-time settings.
Sean Small, an 18-year-old senior, was arrested at the school Tuesday after a female student complained to Principal Ric Manns that she was concerned after seeing video of Small playing The Walking Dead: Our World at school, with the game’s shooter and zombies visible in a hallway.
He posted, “Finally something better than Pokemon Go,” with the video.
After Manns and Joe Baker, a deputy in the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, watched the video, they found that the footage “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,” Baker wrote in an affidavit for probable cause. “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.”
No weapons were found after Baker searched Small and his backpack, and he told school officials that he “meant no harm” in the post.
Small, a member of Scottsburg High’s wrestling team and part of the Indiana National Guard, pleaded not guilty to the intimidation charge, a misdemeanor, in Scott County Circuit Court on Thursday. He’s free after his family posted a $1,000 bond that day.
Scott County School District 2 Superintendent Marc Slaton declined to comment on the matter, citing student privacy laws.
Small’s father, Kris Small, said reaction from school officials was overblown. He said the criminal charge could affect his nascent military career while expulsion, if recommended after a hearing next week, will cost him his senior year and his final season on the wrestling team.
“All because of a simple video game he posted,” Small said after Tuesday’s hearing, adding that his son had recently downloaded the game after returning home from basic training at Fort Benning.
Small said he met with the school’s principals, resource officer and Slaton on Tuesday.
“They made it sound like he had posted this awful video,” he said. “They said he had created (computer-generated imagery) of students and was shooting students in the school hallway, and it wasn’t until I had a chance to actually look at it and I saw the logo in the corner and listened to it and heard the zombie sounds that I realized what it really was.”
“I do this for a living,” Small added. “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.”
Sean Small’s trial is set for Oct. 23, with a pretrial conference set for Sept. 27.
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