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Press Release

Statement by United States Attorney William M. McSwain Regarding the Federal Charges Filed Against Taiwanese Teenager Who Allegedly Amassed an Arsenal and Threatened to “Shoot Up” Local High School

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

“Far too often in this country, we as a nation have grieved the brutal murders of innocent people as a result of mass shootings and terrorism. Americans should be safe from such terror, no matter who or where they are. Studying in school or going to work, worshiping at church or cheering for friends at a marathon, relaxing at a movie theater or enjoying an evening at a night club – all of these activities should be safe-havens for every American. But as we know, places like these have turned into horrific crime scenes over the past few years where innocent lives have been lost. One more mass shooting is one too many.

Law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania take seriously every threat of gun violence in our community and will do everything in our power to prevent tragedy from occurring. The federal complaint charging An-Tso Sun (a/k/a “Edward”) shows that we are doing just that. Mr. Sun may have said he was “just kidding” after he made the threat, but his alleged threat is no laughing matter. Regardless of race, gender, or immigration status, if an individual threatens to “shoot up” a school, or any other location, law enforcement will act swiftly upon that threat to ensure the safety of our community. I would also like to point out that if Sun is convicted of the current charge against him – possessing ammunition while being in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa – this is an aggravated felony that will operate as a permanent bar to his reentry into this country.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the hard-working and dedicated law enforcement personnel and prosecutors who responded so quickly in this matter. Thank you to the involved school officials, the Upper Darby Police Department, Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland, and her team of prosecutors and investigators, including Deputy District Attorney Daniel McDevitt, and our partners at the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, including Special Agent in Charge Marlon V. Miller, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jamie Holt, and Special Agent Zachary Kuzowsky, who helped avert a potential tragedy. And thank you to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, Acting Chief of National Security Tay Aspinwall, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Wolfe for prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office.

To the student who heard the alleged threat and reported the incident to school officials – thank you. Thank you for being a good citizen and reporting it. It cannot be said too often: if you see something or hear something, you need to say something. Countless incidents have been averted because of vigilant people like you.

Finally, I would like to address parents, guardians, and all other adults who are responsible for children in their lives. It is your responsibility to know what your children are up to. No child should have access to firearms or other dangerous weapons without their parents’ or guardians’ knowledge. No child should be amassing an arsenal under the nose of the adults in their lives without the adults knowing about it. And when the adults know about it, they should do something about it. Ask questions. Go into your children’s bedrooms and look around. Pay attention to their online behavior and social media accounts. Wake up and do your job. Being a responsible parent means that your children’s business is your business.

We have a sacred duty, not only to our own children, but to all children in our community to make sure that they remain safe. To make sure that they can enjoy being children without fear or threat of violence. Thus, I am putting all parents and guardians in our community on notice. Law enforcement is not the first line of defense in these matters – you are. I ask that you take that responsibility seriously. Our children’s lives depend on it. And if you don’t fulfill that responsibility and then tragedy strikes, I will do everything in my power to hold you personally responsible, when the law allows it.” 

Updated December 20, 2018