Adding drama to their investigation of the suspicious vehicle at about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Officers Thistle and Barbato, while questioning the three suspects, "observed in plain view several semi-automatic firearms/weapons" in the rear section of the Toyota van, McCarthy said.
The BB guns' resemblance to actual firearms was so significant that the officers at first believed the air rifles were the real thing, McCarthy said. – emphasis added
From the minimal description provided in the article I would speculate that the likely make and model was one of these:
Crossman M4-177 -- Image via the manufacturer’s websight.
I don’t happen to have one of those myself. But they do look like a fun plinker. Basically the one I handled at WalMart seemed to be a along the lines of a Pumpmaster 760 dressed up in an AR-15 costume. If I was in my teens I’d probably be drooling all over the idea of getting one. And the stock really is adjustable, just like its metal cousin. Did I mention that these are almost completely made of plastic? Metal is used where needed but the entire outer frame is injection molded probably polystyrene.
The newspaper reports that the van was stolen as were the airguns. That got the driver arrested on felony charges for receiving stolen property. His passengers were arrested for not being able to convince officer OMG they got gunses! that the baggies in their pockets contained oregano for their home ec class later that afternoon.
UPDATE: It turns out that the "rifles" in question were not BB guns. They are much more realistic airsoft guns. I shouldn't expect the media to understand the difference, or even that there is a difference...
Lowell Sun photo
UPDATE II: I just thought I'd point out the nice job the local cat box liner did in cropping this photograph. Trim a little off the stock and you don't really loose anything. But if you trim an inch or so off the muzzle you can completely eliminate the ORANGE TIP that all airsoft toys are required by law to have. Suddenly it looks like a real AR-15. In terms of the oath administered to every witness in every court across this land that would be a failure to "tell the whole truth."