An Tso Sun, Darby
A foreign exchange student from Taiwan made a comment about shooting up Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High in Drexel Hill. (Upper Darby Police Department)

A Taiwanese foreign exchange student who was arrested after threatening to "shoot up" his Philly-area school agreed to be deported at his sentencing hearing in federal court.

Under the agreement, An-Tso Sun, 18, aka Edward Sun, who was arrested in March after a tipster alerted authorities to his verbal threat against Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High in Upper Darby, Pa., will be released from jail, deported to his native Taiwan, and reunited with his celebrity parents,  actor/film director father Sun Peng and mother Di Ying, an opera singer, who reportedly had to sell two homes to pay for their son's legal defense.

“Hey, don’t come to school on May 1st. . . . I’m going to come here armed and shoot up the school.  Just kidding," Sun remarked on March 26, 2018 to a classmate after the school bell rang at the end of the day. But hearing the comment made just six weeks after the mass shooting in a Parkland, Florida school claimed the lives of 17 students and staff, the classmate reported the comment to authorities – who quickly moved to investigate the home where Sun was residing.

Upper Darby police found some 1,600 bullets, ammunition intended for different types of weapons, including AK-47s and AR-15s; a crossbow with a scope and seven arrows, a handmade Glock, garrotte wire, and a full bulletproof outfit – ballistic vest, jacket and pants. Online, they found Sun had been searching for how to acquire an AK-47 and AR-15.The discovery terrified the Philadelphia region, with it appearing to be a near-miss of a mass shooting just outside the city.

 

The case was quickly transferred to federal jurisdiction. In August, Sun pleaded guilty to one count of being an alien in illegal possession of firearms. On Nov. 19, U.S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro sentenced Sun to four to 23 months in prison, and with credit for the five and a half months of time served. The judge ordered him to forfeit all the ammunition in his possession, and granted Sun's immediate parole into the custody of ICE, who will deport Sun back to Taiwan, per his agreement with the court.

“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,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement on the case. “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.”

Sun's sentencing to deportation – rather than a lengthy prison term – brings to a conclusion a drama closely watched in Sun's native Taiwan, where his celebrity parents have apologized repeatedly for their son's actions and pleaded for mercy, insisting that he was only joking when he threatened his school and collected the bullets and weapons due to his desire to eventually find a career in law enforcement and his military hobbyist's interest in learning about the tools of the trade.

The stockpile of bullets included 20 rounds of 9mm Blazer Brass ammunition, two AK-style 30-round magazines with ammunition, two AR-15-style 30-round magazines with ammunition, and numerous additional boxes of ammunition, totaling more than 1,600 rounds.

“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,” Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland said in a statement.  “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 of Nov. 20, Sun was still be awaiting formal extradition back to Taiwan.

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