Florida student, suspended from college over shooting range photo, sues school

Screen capture … Student and mom Dia’mon Dallas … Credit: WJAX-TV

Firearm phobia strikes again, this time in Florida, as a college student who was about to graduate was suspended indefinitely over a photo posted to Facebook showed her with a handgun at a shooting range. The student and single mother is suing First Coast Technical College, the principal, and the assistant principal for violating her First and 14th Amendment rights.

“Everything has just gone down the drain. I really was trying hard in school. I was making A’s,” Dia’mon Dallas said to WJAX reporter Jenna Bourne.

According to Dallas, she was at a shooting range with her fiance Anfernee Royster and a military-veteran cousin who was teaching the couple to shoot. The Facebook post by Royster showed the couple posing, holding the firearms with the caption, “She’s my Bonnie and I’m her Clyde.”

Another student reported the post to the school in St. Augustine and subsequently assistant principal Donna Gary-Donavan suspended Dallas, according to the TV station. The school reportedly refused to allow Dallas back into the building to retrieve a crock pot she left in a classroom, as an administrator told her they didn’t know what she might do to other students.

“I can’t get a job and I have a baby I have to support,” Dallas said. “I’ve been out of work long enough and I wanted to do this to be able to provide for my family. And now I can’t.”

Royster said that his Facebook “Bonnie and Clyde” post was not meant as a threat. “What I mean is like, we’re together forever.” And I feel like the main thing was that we were getting stereotyped because of the color of our skin.”

Attorney and Republican State Representative Cord Byrd filed the lawsuit May 14 in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville on behalf of Dallas. He told the news station, “Some people just don’t like guns. They feel threatened by firearms. But that’s why we have constitutional protections, to protect activities that other people might find uncomfortable or unpopular.”

The lawsuit stated the photo and post was a “purely off-campus Facebook communication with friends.” It also indicated there was no connection to a “school-related activity” and therefore does not “interrupt the school environment.”

School officials declined comment because of the lawsuit.

Victor Rantala


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