CRIME
10/29/2014 11:10 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Students Tito Velez And Jamie Pereira Suspended Over AirSoft Homecoming Photo

A young Massachusetts couple was suspended from high school after one of them posted a controversial photo to social media.

Tito Velez and his girlfriend, Jamie Pereira, posed for a photo holding AirSoft guns prior to the homecoming dance at Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School. According to WHDH, they posted the photo online Friday with the caption "Homecoming 2014."

School officials perceived the photo as insensitive and issued suspensions to the teens. Officials said the students must be punished for causing a disruption.

"What it's about is a [couple of] students engaging in an activity that created a total destruction of the school day," Superintendent Richard W. Gross said. "They're juniors in high school, and it's proactive and they should know better and it scared students."

The students say it's unfair because the guns only shoot plastic pellets, and the photo was taken at home, not at school.

"This isn’t dangerous. You can’t kill someone with it,” Velez, 15, told CBS Boston Tuesday. “We didn’t shoot anyone. We were pointing them at the floor."

While supporters of the teens say that the school is overreacting, officials say the extra caution is necessary.

Gross told WBZ that, had police known about the photo, they would have cancelled the homecoming dance.

Earlier this month, a team of Harvard researchers published a study that shows mass shootings in the United States have surged in the last three years, occurring on average every 64 days.

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