Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese student pleads guilty to US firearms charge


Taiwanese student Sun An-tso, also known as Edward Sun, is pictured in a screengrab from his Facebook page.

Screengrab from Facebook

Taiwanese student Sun An-tso (孫安佐), accused of threatening to carry out a shooting at his suburban Philadelphia high school, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge, with a sentence due to be delivered in December.

Sun, 18, was arraigned in federal court, where he entered the guilty plea.

District Judge Nitza Quinones Alejandro scheduled sentencing for Dec. 11, but Sun’s attorney, Robert Keller, asked that the date be moved up once the pre-sentencing report is finished.

According to a court statement, the plea deal was reached last week, with Sun agreeing to forgo his right to a grand jury and defend himself in court. He also agreed to be deported and to not re-enter the US without permission.

Sun on June 4 plead guilty in Delaware County Court to the state’s charges of making “terroristic threats” in exchange for having a “possession of an instrument of crime” charge dropped. He was sentenced to four to 23 months, but was immediately paroled and remanded to federal custody to face a charge of an alien in possession of ammunition.

Quinones could sentence Sun to up to 10 years in prison and up to US$250,000 in fines.

Keller said after court on Tuesday that he hopes to show up for the sentencing hearing with a plane ticket.

As long as Sun’s parents produce an airplane ticket for him in court when the sentence is announced, he will be escorted by US marshals to an airport on the judge’s order, without having to go through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s time-consuming procedures, Keller said.

“That’s going to be the mantra, the cry, when he gets to sentencing. Let this boy go home,” he said.

Sun was arrested on March 26 after school authorities were told he had talked about a May 1 shooting at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby, west of Philadelphia. He called the talk a joke, but authorities found weapons and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition in the home where he was staying.

Keller on Tuesday objected to the US Attorney’s office including the allegation that Sun had told a classmate not to come to school on May 1 because he was planning a shooting.

The judge overruled his objection, but Keller said that he would raise it again during sentencing. He accused prosecutors of “going overboard” in trying to prove their case.

Keller said Sun’s parents, actor and film director Sun Peng (孫鵬) and actress Di Ying (狄鶯), were in Philadelphia and had been visiting their son weekly, but chose not to go to court on Tuesday to try to remove some of the spotlight from their son.

“I think the huge mistake that this young child made was he didn’t understand the dynamics of what’s going on in the United States,” Keller said after court. “He now gets it ... and it’s time for this kid to go home.”

In his office’s statement on Tuesday, US Attorney William McSwain held Sun’s parents liable.

“It should be obvious that no child should be stockpiling an arsenal — or have any access to firearms or other dangerous weapons — without their parents’ or guardians’ knowledge,” he said. “Every parent needs to be involved and actively aware of what is going on in their child’s life.”

Additional reporting by CNA

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