A Massachusetts town official running for re-election is drawing criticism for using a fake gun as prop during a forum for candidates.

South Yarmouth Selectman Aubrey "Bud" Groskopf, who is running to keep his seat in the May 17 election, warned the crowd at Monday's Town Hall forum he was going to take out the fake silver handgun before pulling it from his briefcase, but some said they were still alarmed by the move, the Cape Cod (Mass.) Times reported Thursday.

"I certainly bolted out the door," said William Moran, a friend of Niall Hopkins, who is running against Groskopf.

Hopkins said the incident set a bad example for children who may have been watching the event.

"In my mind, it's wrong and I wouldn't have done it," he said.

Selectmen Erik Tolley, acting Town Administrator Peter Johnson-Staub and Police Chief Frank Frederickson released a statement critical of the action.

"We would like to make clear to the public and to participants at future public meetings that we do not condone the use of fake or real weapons as props at public meetings," the officials wrote.

Campbell said he was illustrating a point about a lawsuit against Barnstable County and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed by the Conservation Law Foundation.

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James Quirk Jr., who is also running for the seat, declined to comment on the incident.