Father of former Fitchburg State student accused in ammo case criticizes authorities

The father of a Fitchburg State University sophomore expelled last week and detained for 10 days by police after wearing a fake ammunition belt on campus says authorities overreacted to his son’s “fashion statement.”

“I’m as shocked and outraged as anyone about what happened in Newtown [Conn.], but when the state troopers took my son to the station, they should have realized that the ammunition belt was fake and given him a $25 fine and let him on his way,” Peter Despres, father of Andrew K. Despres, who was arrested Dec. 18 for trespassing and carrying ammunition, said today.

Despres said his son wore the belt as an “expression of his fashion sense.’’

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“He’s been wearing that belt for over a year on campus and never had any problems,” Despres said in a telephone interview.

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which shocked the nation and triggered a growing chorus of calls for an end to gun violence, happened Dec. 14.

Despres, 20, of New Bedford, was expelled from Fitchburg State Dec. 17 for violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy for allegedly possessing marijuana and a knife in a dorm room. He was told to contact school police before returning to campus to pick up belongings.

But the next day, authorities say, he returned to campus without notifying police and was arrested.

He was originally held on $50,000 cash bail, but the bail was reduced this week to $500. It was was posted by his parents with contributions from friends.

Despres was released from custody this afternoon. He was restricted to his home and ordered to wear a GPS device. He was also ordered not to set foot on the Fitchburg State campus.

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