Gun violence in the US

Taiwanese exchange student arrested in US ‘after threatening to shoot up his high school’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 4:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 7:08pm

A Taiwanese exchange student accused of threatening a shooting at his US high school had ammunition in the home where he was staying and had researched how to buy weapons, police said on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old student, An Tso Sun, threatened to “shoot up” the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School on May 1, police from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, said. Sun later said he was joking but was charged with making terroristic threats, police said.

“Kudos to the person who stepped forward and helped to avert a tragedy,” the police department said in a tweet.

Sun allegedly told a fellow student “not come to school on May 1” because he “was going to shoot up the school," Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Wednesday at a news conference. Sun then purportedly told the classmate he was “kidding,” Chitwood said.

A military-style ballistic vest, ammunition clip pouches, a high-powered crossbow and live ammunition were found in Sun’s bedroom in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.

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His school-issued iPad indicated searches on how to buy an AK-47 or an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, police said.

Public defender 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 declined to comment on the allegations that ammunition was found and that his client researched buying weapons, but he said that even if true, neither was illegal.

Sun was taken to Delaware County Prison in lieu of US$100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 11.