Foreign exchange student from Taiwan pleads guilty to firearm charge

He previously pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats to 'shoot up' Drexel Hill school

Steve Tawa
August 28, 2018 - 4:35 pm
An-Tso Sun

Upper Darby Police Department

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Taiwanese foreign exchange student who said he was "just joking" about a planned shooting at a Delaware County high school earlier this spring has pleaded guilty in federal court. 

The federal charge came in June, a few days after An-Tso Sun pleaded guilty to state charges of making terroristic threats. A Delaware County judge sentenced the 18-year-old to 23 months in jail, but then ordered immediate parole, transferring him to federal authorities for deportation.

In March, Sun, known as Edward, told a classmate at Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill not to come to school on May 1 because he was planning on showing up to the school armed to "shoot up" the school. 

That classmate reported Sun to authorities.

Sun had been staying with a host family in Lansdowne, and when police searched his bedroom, they found 1,600 rounds of ammunition and a handgun.

Defense lawyer Robert Keller is interviewed by Taiwanese media.
Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

Defense lawyer Robert Keller, who maintains his client was just joking, conceded that the prosecution was appropriate, and that Sun "used bad judgment, and he was immature." He said they're most concerned about the disposition of the case, hoping that the teenager ultimately gets sentenced to time served and sent back to Taiwan.

The federal charge — possessing ammunition while on a non-immigrant visa — carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Wolfe said the government has not yet formulated a sentencing recommendation. Sun will remain in custody until he is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 11. The defense asked that the date be moved up.

It will be up to Federal District Court Judge Nitza Quinones Alejandro to fashion a sentence that will have him deported to Taiwan. The only question is whether he'll get more prison time. 

Sun was two months shy of graduating high school, and he had hoped to attend Temple University.