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College student arrested for wearing a fake ammo belt held on 50k bail

FITCHBURG -- Family and friends of an
expelled Fitchburg State University student arrested on Tuesday for
allegedly possessing a semiautomatic rifle ammunition belt say the belt
is fake and nothing more than a fashion statement.They also say that Andrew K. Despres is being discriminated
against for his punk appearance and that the ammunition possession
charge and the $50,000 cash bail set at Fitchburg District Court on
Wednesday are the result of heightened emotions in response to the
recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn.Andrew Despres, 20, of New Bedford, was arrested on Tuesday for
trespassing and possessing ammunition without an FID card as he
attempted to remove his belongings from his FSU dorm room following his
from the school on Monday for alleged infractions including possessing
marijuana and other items prohibited on campus, including firecrackers
and a box cutter. A buck knife found in his room was found to belong to
his roommate, John Lafirira, 19, of Loudon, N.H., who said Friday the
charge was dropped against him and the knife has been returned.Doreen Despres says her son bought the fake ammunition belt at a website called about two years ago, and that he's worn it nearly every day since, including on campus at FSU and to all of his classes."I'm disgusted with the whole situation because everybody knows that it's fake," she said in a telephone interview on Friday. "Everybody
who could see or touch it knows it's fake. Anybody can buy one at Hot
Topic. Andrew doesn't own a gun and he never has."Andrew Despres was expelled from the university on his 20th birthday
and will now spend Christmas in a jail cell, Doreen Despres said. She
said the entire family is in shock, because he's "just a regular kid"
who has no prior record and has never been in any trouble in his entire
life."He doesn't conform to what anyone else is wearing, but he
doesn't do anything bad," Doreen Despres said. "It isn't a crime to look
different."She hopes a bail hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday at
Worcester Superior Court will be able to straighten everything out, that
the ammunition charge will be dropped and her son will be released on
personal recognizance.An outpouring of support for Despres has appeared on Facebook and
in other arenas, with more than 300 friends and fellow FSU students
pledging their attendance at a Wednesday event called "Free Day Day,"
which is Despres' nickname."If he was so terrorizing, why would all these hundreds of kids support him?" Doreen Despres said.She made a Facebook page for the first time on Friday to be able
to see all of the support for her son, which she called "the one bright
spot" she's had over a rough few days.Lafirira said the box cutter and Xacto blades found in his
roommate's belongings are art tools he uses to make stencils, and the
belt is just part of his attire."He has worn it on campus for a year and a half now, with no
problem with it until this arrest," Lafirira said. "I believe this
charge is tacked on to hold him as long as they can, and make him out to
be a monster or a school shooter."Alyssa Almeida, a friend of Andrew Despres for five years, said the accusations regarding his mental state are "out of line.""To say he's mentally unstable for having a bad attitude towards a
school that kicked him out over two miniscule things on his birthday?
Can you blame him?" she said. "He's being discriminated against, it's
very clear."In an email sent out to students, FSU President Robert V.
Antonucci maintains that the university's safety protocols and vigilance
were effective, and said that Andrew Despres was not carrying a gun nor
was he a risk to other students during the incident leading to his
arrest."Insuring the safety of our campus community is a responsibility I
approach with the utmost level of seriousness," Antonucci wrote.
"Indeed, that is why the student was swiftly expelled and barred from
campus -- and why he currently resides at the Worcester County Jail."Michael Vanderpool, 20, of Hopkinton, the creator of the "Free
Day Day" event, wrote on the page that Andrew Despres is no stranger to
being stereotyped by others who take one look at his dyed hair and
patch-covered clothing and think he's trouble."
"Andrew never cared about being accepted, and therefore he was
alien," Vanderpool wrote. "People see the alien in him and they respond
in one of two ways, they think he's a fake, or they think he's a
criminal."Vanderpool said the reaction of campus officials and the court
were made out of "misplaced fear" for the potential of a similar
occurrence to the Newtown shooting to happen here.
"These shootings are tragic and horrific events and recently they
have been brought way too close to home," Vanderpool wrote. "However, a
boy is in prison for wearing a belt with inactive ammunition and
trespassing on state property only to move his belongings back home. He
is still waiting for his chance to go home, that's all he wants. He
doesn't want to hurt anyone. Right now he is alone and scared in a
prison wondering why his life fell apart."

Added: Dec-27-2012 Occurred On: Dec-27-2012
By: falsephrophet
Regional News
Tags: College, student, arrested, for, wearing, a, fake, ammo, belt, held, on, 50k, bail,
Location: Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States (load item map)
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