A Taiwanese exchange student studying in Pennsylvania told fellow students not to come to school May 1 because he was going to “shoot-up” the school. Then he said that he was “just kidding.”
Associated Press reported that 18 year-old An Tso Sun was arrested Wednesday for making terroristic threats. A search of his accommodation revealed a high-powered crossbow, live ammunition, ammunition clip pouches, and a bullet-proof vest. Investigators also found evidence on Sun’s school-issued tablet that showed Sun had researched how to buy an AK-47 or AR-15 assault rifle.
Other reports, including Daily Mail, also mention that the search revealed a military ski mask, ear protectors for firing guns, a garrote, and a loading dock for AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles.
“Kudos to the person who stepped forward and helped to avert a tragedy,” the Upper Darby, police department said in a tweet.
Sun’s family and his defense attorney say that the student was just joking when he threatened a “shoot-up” at the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School.
Defense attorney Enrique Latoison said that his client “had no intention or plans” to commit a school shooting and that many items found were what he wore to school for a Halloween costume contest.
“I don’t believe what he said rises to the crime of terroristic threatening,” Latoison said.
“He said, ‘Just kidding.’ I understand the heightened sensitivity, but he is not from here, he didn’t possess the same social skills of what it is to grow up in the post-Columbine generation,” Latoison said.
He added, “You and I understand that it’s not a funny joke, but maybe he doesn’t understand that.”
Latoison said Sun came to the United States in the fall from Taiwan, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.
When questioned by reporters regarding the live ammunition and search to purchase weapons, Latoison declined to comment, and said that even if true, neither were illegal.
Police said that none of the items are illegal on their own, but when combined,they painted a worrying picture.
‘That’s a lot of stuff. I have a lot of concern over it. When you add it all together, we believe that he was planning something horrible,’ Upper Darby police superintendent Mike Chitwood said on Wednesday.
Sun was taken to Delaware County Prison in lieu of US$100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 11, according to Associated Press.
Suspect is Son of Well-known Entertainers
The case has received extra media attention in Taiwan because Sun is the only son of actor-entertainers Sun Peng (孫鵬) and Di Ying (狄鶯).
United Daily News reported that Sun’s mother Di Ying had mentioned her son in a magazine interview last year where Di said that her son had a strong sense of justice and wanted to become a police officer in the US. She also revealed in the interview that Sun was very protective of his mother and before he went to the US, Sun told his mother that he wanted to buy a gun for her to protect herself at home.
Sun’s teachers at a senior high school in Taiwan said that he was no different from the average high school student, although his English language ability was very strong. He was described as a quiet and independent student. The school stated that both teachers and students were aware that Sun was a military fan, and that he often posted about military matters on his Facebook page, and chatted about military topics.
According to Liberty Times Network, Di Ying and Sun Peng will depart for the United States tomorrow.
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