Virginia Tech freshman student Yunsong Zhao has been charged with illegal gun possession.
According to Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski, Zhao is accused of possessing a rifle, a weapon that Virginia law says foreign nationals cannot possess and trying to order 5,000 rounds of ammunition.
Investigators say that the VA Tech freshman purchased an AR-15 assault rifle and then checked the assault rifle into the student gun locker at the Virginia Tech Public Safety Building. Furthermore, according to the warrants, Zhao also checked out a Bushmaster XM 15 assault rifle.
According to the warrants, on January 22, police received reports Zhao purchased a PMAG rifle with a 30-round magazine. The ammunition is illegal under Zhao’s VISA status.
Detectives also observed Zhao shooting a .223 caliber weapon with a 30-round magazine at Jefferson National Forest’s firing range.
Police searched Zhao’s dorm in Cochrane Hall and his 2011 Crown Victoria sedan, according to arrest warrants.
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) January 31, 2018
Zhao is currently being held at the Montgomery County Jail without bail.
The Virginia Tech Chief of Police released a full statement about Zhao’s arrest on Facebook:
“Earlier today, VTPD received information about a rumor that “someone on campus” had been “stockpiling weapons” and the students “should avoid large lecture classes”. Understandably, others hearing this were deeply concerned, too. VTPD immediately investigated but have found no evidence this rumor is accurate. However, we will continue to be vigilant for our community.
We always encourage members of our community to contact us anytime there is a concern about safety, security and/or suspected violation of the law on campus. All of us at Virginia Tech are fully committed to keeping our campus and satellite facilities as safe and secure as possible. Rest assured that if VTPD possesses any information indicating an impending or immediate threat to campus, we will take the necessary steps to alert our community.
Today, following a lengthy investigation, VTPD served an arrest warrant on a student for a firearms violation. Hence, we obtained an arrest warrant for that student and took him into custody earlier today without incident. It is quite possible this case sparked the rumor from earlier today.
As always, we greatly appreciate the vigilance of not only our campus community but of all of Hokie nation. We work very closely with all departments across campus as well as our law enforcement colleagues in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Montgomery County as well as the state and federal authorities. I want to personally thank each and every one of you in assisting us here in our efforts to keep all Hokies safe.”
Zhao’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 1. He faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
Virginia Tech is the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history when Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks before committing suicide.