Oct 29 2014

Students Suspended For Airsoft Facebook Photo

Students suspended for airsoft photo

Once upon a time, there were two students who attended Bristol-Plymouth Vocational, a vocational high school located in Bristol County, MA. There is a large hunting community in Bristol County, and neighboring Plymouth County is the only red county in the entire state. The area is a tiny little nest of Second Amendment supporters in a state otherwise obsessed with zero-tolerance everything. The two students – Tito Velez and his girlfriend Jamie Pereira – enjoy shooting airsoft. In fact, Tito is a competitive shooter. One day, while embracing their hobby, the two teens took a photo with their airsoft rifles, and posted it to Facebook.

They were suspended two days later. The photo was also removed.

The story broke Monday and the teens reposted their photo, this time with commentary on the school’s reaction. I actually shared this to my Facebook page, The Liberty Doll, and soon found that removed, as well. It is unknown at this time whether Facebook removed the photo or whether the teens were forced to remove it themselves.

airsoft students suspended

A screencap of Tito’s second post, which was later removed.

The photo was taken by Tito’s father, on their own private property, before the homecoming dance. After the photo, the father put the rifles back into storage. Many teens have taken similar photos before, without punishment – hell, my father took photos of me before my high school prom holding two of his machetes from Vietnam. The only person that got upset about it was my mother because it was “tacky.”

The school states that the issue is not the photograph itself, but the caption – which said “Homecoming 2014” with a heart and smiley faces – which frightened both parents and the school. Superintendent Richard Gross called the photo “a disruption” and states that it is that “disruption” that the students are being punished for. “These students know what is provocative,” he said. “To tie that to one of our school events kind of puts it over the top which brings us into it.”

Gross reports that several parents called the school to report the “threat,” though most students did not see the photo until after the dance. He also said that, because the photo was of a supposed threatening nature and involved the school, normal considerations around free speech do not apply.

The teens were pulled out of a track meet to be disciplined, and were not allowed to call their parents.

Superintendent Gross likened the photo to the shooting at Newtown, stating the students “should have known better.”

When Tito reposted the photo yesterday, he filled in the rest of the details. Not only were the students taken out of their track meet, but their lockers and backpacks were searched. Police arrived and questioned them and read them their rights without parental consent. They will be suspended for 10 days in a school that only allows 4 1/2 days absent, so the students will also be either expelled or forced to pay for special summer and winter sessions.

In the photo, both students have their barrels pointed at the floor and do not have their fingers on the trigger. Tito states that the magazines are mock mags and that the safeties were on. Nevertheless, Gross says if he had known about the photo prior to the dance, he would have canceled the event.


  1. Al

    Can we see the machete pics? 😀

    1. LibertyDoll

      My dad has them stored away somewhere. I can ask him next time I see him, lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>