Students Suspended for Facebook Photos With Toy Rifles

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posted on October 31, 2014
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In yet another outrageous example of zero tolerance run amok, two high school students in suburban Boston have been suspended—and face possible expulsion—after posting a photo of them holding Airsoft rifles on their social media page.

Tito Velez, 16, and his girlfriend Jamie Pereira posed with their Airsoft rifles inside his home before leaving for the Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School homecoming dance in Taunton on Friday, Oct. 24. The photo was taken by Velez's father.

The teens, who say they enjoy shooting plastic pellets with their Airsoft rifles as a hobby, posted the photo on Facebook, with a heading that read: "Homecoming 2014." The photo showed the two nicely dressed teens in a living room setting, holding the toy guns barrel-down, and both with their fingers safely off-trigger. A caption accompanying the photo specified they were Airsoft guns and not dangerous.

School superintendent Dr. Richard Gross, who issued the 10-day suspension, claimed the photo's heading connected the two and their toy guns to a school event, justifying the punishment.

"These students know what is provocative," Gross said. "To tie that to one of our school events kind of puts it over the top which brings us into it."

Dr. Gross claimed authorities would have cancelled the homecoming dance had they known about the Facebook post on the night of the event.

"This isn't dangerous. … You can't kill someone with it," Velez told a local NBC-TV affiliate. "We didn't shoot anyone. We were pointing them at the floor. Everything was on safe, no batteries, they never left the house. We never took them to school. That'd be stupid."

Thousands have voiced their defense of the two teens online, claiming their punishment was uncalled for.

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