Taiwanese Exchange Student Who Threatened to Shoot Up School Sentenced on Federal Ammunition Charge
PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that An-Tso Sun, 18, also known as “Edward Sun,” a Taiwanese exchange student, was sentenced today before United States District Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro. Sun pleaded guilty to one count of being an alien in possession of ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Judge Quinones sentenced Sun to time served (approximately five and a half months) and required him to forfeit the ammunition in his possession. Additionally, Judge Quinones ordered that Sun be transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and removed from the United States. Under federal law, today’s conviction will operate as a permanent bar to re-entry to the United States.
Sun is a Taiwanese national who came to the United States in August 2017, on an F-1 visa to be a student at a high school in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. While attending school, he resided with a host family in Upper Darby. Beginning in October 2017, Sun visited a Philadelphia shooting range on multiple occasions, where he fired a variety of firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. Over the next few months, Sun purchased hundreds of rounds of ammunition from online vendors and directed that they be shipped to his host family address. In January 2018, Sun purchased pistol components from multiple online vendors and assembled them to create a functioning homemade pistol.
On March 26, 2018, after the school bell rang at the end of the day, Sun made the following statement to a fellow student: “Hey, don’t come to school on May 1st. . . . I’m going to come here armed and shoot up the school. Just kidding.” That student reported the incident to school officials, who then alerted law enforcement officials. Upper Darby Police officers executed a search warrant at Sun’s residence and seized from Sun’s bedroom 20 rounds of 9mm Blazer Brass ammunition; a ballistic suit, including a vest, jacket and pants; a crossbow; seven arrows; and various firearm accessories and shooting equipment. Sun’s host-mother, “V.H.,” was later interviewed and explained that, prior to the search, she had removed a number of items from Sun’s bedroom, including bullets and firearm-related items, and given the items to an attorney. Law enforcement took possession of those items, which included, among other things, a homemade semiautomatic pistol, two AK-style 30-round magazines with ammunition, two AR-15-style 30-round magazines with ammunition, and numerous additional boxes of ammunition, totaling over 1,600 rounds.
Sun was arrested by Upper Darby police and charged with making terroristic threats. He pleaded guilty to that charge in early June 2018 and was sentenced to 4-23 months’ incarceration, with immediate parole and credit for time served. Sun was released into ICE custody and charged federally pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). On August 28, 2018, Sun entered a guilty plea to the federal charge.
“Federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will continue to work together to prevent tragedy and combat terrorism and threats of violence,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “But it is parents and guardians who serve as the first line of defense in these kinds of situations involving children’s access to firearms. No child should be stockpiling an arsenal – or have any access to firearms or other dangerous weapons – without their parents’ or guardians’ knowledge. Every parent needs to be involved and actively aware of what is going on in their child’s life. It is their duty and obligation, not only to the child, but also to the community at large.”
“Children in this country deserve to feel safe while at school,” said Special Agent in Charge Marlon V. Miller, Homeland Security Investigations, Philadelphia Field Office. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work with our state and local law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and security of our communities. Thanks to the quick response by law enforcement, a potential school tragedy was prevented.”
“Our region’s law enforcement community is uniquely strong with the ability to partner across jurisdictions and work together quickly and effectively when responding to crisis situations to protect our community. This strength is exemplified in the case of An Tso Sun. Armed with over a 1,000 rounds of ammunition, he threatened a mass shooting – an evil plot to cause mass harm and carnage that we believe he would have carried out, if not stopped,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. “As the result of the swift response of his classmates, school officials, and the Upper Darby Police Department, no one was harmed. Mr. Sun is now facing the severe consequences of his actions and deportation as a result of the efforts of United States Attorney McSwain and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”
This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Upper Darby Police Department and the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah M. Wolfe.