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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 14, 2018

Chinese National Who Threatened to Shoot School Children Pleads Guilty to Gun and ID Theft Charges

HOUSTON - A 22-year-old Chinese national who resided in La Marque has admitted to possessing a firearm while being an illegal alien and to aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski.

Xiangyu Zhang remained in the United States two years after his visa expired. He came to law enforcement’s attention in July 2018 when he entered an internet chat session on the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Crisis Line and threated to kill school children by using firearms. Zhang is a not a U.S. veteran. 

“We believed that this individual presented a real danger to the community based on the threats that he made to the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline,” said Dawson. “Within days of being alerted to those threats, our special agents were able to conduct their investigation, secure an arrest warrant and locate and arrest the subject before he had the opportunity to harm anyone.”

Law enforcement arrested him at a gas station located close to his residence. At that time, he was sitting in a vehicle in possession of two firearms, including an AM-15 rifle. Both firearms had rounds in the chamber.  

“Holding people responsible for unlawfully being in possession of firearms and fighting violent crime remains at the forefront of the ATF mission,” said Milanowski. “Working with our partners at HSI to become a force multiplier will ensure our community is safe.”

Upon Zhang’s arrest, law enforcement also found a passport belonging to a woman who lived in the Dallas area. Zhang had stolen the woman’s purse containing the passport in August 2017 after he served as her Uber driver. Within hours of stealing her purse, Zhang, while using the woman’s identity without her permission, attempted to purchase several high end items online from Apple.  

Law enforcement also found a picture of a fake U.S. passport page with Zhang’s picture and the woman’s passport number on Zhang’s phone. 

A few months after stealing the purse, Zhang defrauded Bank of America in March 2018 for more than $11,000. In late June 2018, and a few days before making those threats on the VA chat line, Zhang stole an IRS refund check from his neighbor’s mailbox and deposited it into his bank account. 

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller accepted Zhang’s pleas today and set sentencing for March 19, 2019. At that time, he faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum $250,000 fine for the firearm possession charge. He also faces a mandatory two years for the identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

HSI and ATF conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated December 14, 2018