- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two high school students in Massachusetts were suspended and face possible expulsion after posting a homecoming photo online of themselves holding airsoft rifles.

Tito Velez, 15, and his girlfriend Jamie Pereira posed with the airsoft rifles inside his home before heading to the Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School homecoming dance in Taunton, a local NBC affiliate reported.

“This isn’t dangerous. … You can’t kill someone with it,” Tito said. “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.”

Airsoft rifles only shoot plastic pellets and are not intended to be lethal. Still, the two were suspended Monday morning after posting the photo on Facebook, and administrators are considering expulsion, the station said.

“They created a disruption, in our opinion, and that’s what they’re being punished for,” said superintendent Richard Gross.

The issue wasn’t the gun replicas themselves, but the “Homecoming 2014” caption attached to the photo, the superintendent said.

“These students know what is provocative,” Mr. Gross said, a local CBS affiliate reported. “To tie that to one of our school events kind of puts it over the top which brings us into it.”

He said a number of concerned parents saw the post and called the school to complain.

“Whether they had reason to be afraid or not, the fact is they were, and it was created by this,” Mr. Gross said.

He said police would have canceled the dance if they had known about the Facebook post on Friday.

Jamie said she thinks the punishment is too harsh.

“I understand but I think they took this way too far,” she said. “Suspending us for 10 days and possible expulsion is way too much.”

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