An 18-year-old exchange student from Taiwan, An Tso Sun, has been charged with making terroristic threats in Pennsylvania. Sun is charged with threatening to “shoot up” the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby on May 1. Sun later claimed that he was merely joking, but is facing charges nonetheless. Enrique Latoison, who is defending the accused at taxpayer expense, said that Sun never had any plans to shoot up the school.
However, ammunition pouches, a military-style ballistic vest, and a high-powered crossbow were uncovered in Sun’s bedroom in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Investigators also found 1,600 rounds of ammunition for a variety of firearms, including semi-automatic rifles and handguns. According to police, the gun parts and ammunition were purchased over the Internet since Sun’s arrival in the U.S. last August. Sun used a school-issued iPad at least 20 times to search about guns and related issues. In his native Taiwan, Sun showed an interest in flamethrowers.
According to police, Sun came to the U.S. on a student visa and legally obtained all of the weaponry. Sun’s parents are celebrities in Taiwan. His mother, Di Ying, is an opera singer, while his father, Sun Peng, is an actor.
Attorney Latoison said of the discovery that many of the items found were used by Sun for a costume contest. “I don’t believe what he said rises to the crime of terroristic threatening,” Latoison said, adding that his client’s actions do not arise to the level of terroristic threats.
Sun had allegedly warned a fellow student “not come to school on May 1” because he “was going to shoot up the school," according to Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. At a March 28 press conference, Chitwood said that Sun told a classmate that he was “kidding.” “Kudos to the person who stepped forward and helped to avert a tragedy,” the local police department later tweeted.
Attorney Latoison explained that Sun does not have the social skills necessary for growing up in “the post-Columbine generation. While Latoison granted that most people know that what Sun said was not funny, he said that Sun does not understand that.
However, it emerged after Sun’s arrest that not only did he have ammunition in his possession but Sun also researched the buying of weapons. Latoison clarified that even if true, neither issue is illegal.
Sun was locked up at Delaware County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
A Facebook page for Taiwanese attorney Chiu Chang, who is of counsel to Sun's family, declared on April 8:
"After the town's police completed a psychiatric assessment of An Tso Sun, it has been determined that he is mentally ill. The federal-level investigators said there is no time to translate the Chinese in Sun's computer and mobile phone into English. The National Security Agency (NSA) said the case is too small, the federal government will not take up the case and will leave it to local authorities instead."
hool had built a gun with over 1,600 rounds of ammunition.
Police say 18-year-old An Tso Sun of Taiwan, a foreign exchange student at Monsignor Bonner Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School, had hundreds of rounds for an AR-15 and AK-47 and a 9 mm handgun he built himself from parts purchased online. The parts are virtually untraceable. He was allegedly planning to unleash carnage on the school May 1.
According to Upper Darby Police Superintendent, Sun had approximately 225 rounds of 12-gauge ammo, 663 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, 295 rounds of AR-15 ammunition, and 425 rounds of AK-47 ammo, along with other sorts of ammunition. Sun had apparently been able to assemble a 9mm handgun from parts he obtained online and elsewhere. While gun parts can be purchased online from vendors such as Midway or Brownells, including grips, magazines, and triggers, a receiver (frame) of the weapon, by law, can only be obtained by having it shipped to the holder of an FFL (Federal Firearms License), who in turn renders it to the end-user. An end-user can order a receiver online, but the distributor must ship it to an FFI holding shop. By law, it is only after successfully completing a NICS background check that an end-user pick up the weapon.
Questions have arisen about how Sun obtained the 9 mm handgun frame that was found at his residence. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the Department of Homeland Security has a detainer on Sun, who may be subject to deportation in the future. If convicted, he may first have to serve 10 years in prison.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.