Virginia Tech Visa Student Arrested on Assault Weapon Charge

Yunsong Zhao, a Virginia Tech visa student from China, has been arrested on a weapons charge amid fears of another mass shooting on campus.

Yunsong Zhao, 19, was in possession of an AR-15 and a magazine with 30 rounds, according to a Virginia Tech Police search warrant. It is not against the law to own these items separately, but once the magazine is placed into the rifle, it becomes illegal to have for a person on a student visa like Zhao.

Police obtained the search warrant after receiving a tip and arrested Zhao on January 29, 2018.

According to the warrant, Zhao stored the AR-15 in his student gun locker. On January 26, Zhao took his gun out of his locker and went to Jefferson National Forest.

This is where Zhao allegedly fired the gun with the magazine at a shooting range. He was being watched by a detective with Blacksburg Police.

The warrant says when police searched a 2011 Ford “Crown Victoria” believed to belong to Zhao, they found a rifle “with a capacity greater than 20 rounds” and “other weapon accessories that would change the status of a rifle to an assault rifle.”

The formal description of the charge against Zhao is “knowingly and intentionally possessing or transporting an assault firearm while not being a citizen of the United States or while not being lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States.”

According to another warrant, Zhao attempted to purchase 5,000 rounds of ammunition, was researching bulletproof vests, and had purchased an old police vehicle.

Zhao is scheduled to be in court on March 1. He was a student when arrested but is no longer enrolled at Virginia Tech, a university spokesman said on January 30.

Yunsong Zhao Rouses Bad Memories at Virginia Tech

Guns at Virginia Tech are taken very seriously because it is the site of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. In April 2007, a gunman killed 32 people and wounded 17 others before committing suicide.

Virginia Tech Police Chief Kevin Foust acknowledged that there had been rumors of an on-campus weapons stockpile and warnings that students should avoid classes. However, he declared that police had “found no evidence this rumor is accurate.”

The university released a statement that said, “At no time during this investigation did police believe there was any threat to our community, nor is there one now.”