Saying they “should know better,” a Massachusetts high school suspended two students for posting a Facebook photo of themselves holding non-lethal Airsoft guns.
Tito Velez and his girlfriend, Jamie Pereira, decked out in formal wear, posed with the replica assault rifles at home Friday before attending the homecoming dance at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette.
In striking the standard pre-homecoming photo, the couple wanted to “do something unique and different instead of using flowers like everyone else,” Velez told one news source, the Daily Gazette reported.
As fate would have it, that was the same day a Washington state high school student shot five classmates, killing two, before turning the gun on himself.
“They know it’s wrong in this day and age to do something that can only be provocative and will upset and excite other students,” Bristol-Plymouth Superintendent Richard Gross said of Velez and Pereira. “To do that is just foolish.”
Gross said the couple was not being suspended for posing for the photo, but for the disruption it caused at school.
“What it’s about is a couple students engaging in an activity that created a total destruction of the school day,” he told WHDH-TV. “They’re juniors in high school, and it’s proactive and they should know better and it scared students.”
The students said they were not trying to be threatening — the rifles were pointed toward the floor in the photo.
“It’s not like it happened at school, we had the guns [at home] and that’s where the pictures were taken and they said it didn’t matter,” Pereira said. “I guess the school took that as a threat but we didn’t mean it in a threatening way.”
The couple could be suspended for up to ten days.
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