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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chinese National Who Threatened to Shoot School Children Sentenced to Prison

HOUSTON - A 23-year-old Chinese national who resided in La Marque has been ordered to federal prison after admitting to possessing a firearm while being an illegal alien and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. 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 pleaded guilty Dec. 14, 2018.

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller handed him a total 61-month sentence - 37 months for the firearms conviction and a mandatory and consecutive 24 months for the identity theft. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face deportation proceedings following the sentence. At the hearing, Judge Miller noted his concern with Zhang’s actions and felt a prison term at the higher end of the guidelines was appropriate.

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.

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. 

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. 

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 March 14, 2019