Police have arrested a Chinese Virginia Tech freshman for purchasing an assault rifle with a 30-round magazine and attempting to buy 5,000 rounds of ammunition.
According to the arrest warrant issued on Monday, 19-year-old Yunsong Zhao was charged with “possessing or transporting an assault firearm while not being a U.S. citizen or while not being lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the U.S.” He was expelled from Virginia Tech after his arrest, reports WSLS.
The documents also says he has a family back in China and was enrolled as a Virginia Tech student for the past six months, NBC News reported.
Meanwhile, a search warrant obtained by The Roanoke Times indicated that Zhao kept a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle in the student gun lockers at Virginia Tech’s Public Safety Building. The police were notified on Jan. 22 that Zhao had bought a 30-round magazine.
“It is not illegal for Zhao to own the two separate items,” the search warrant indicated. “If Zhao inserts a 30 [round] magazine into the rifle (changing the status of the rifle to assault firearm) is when it becomes illegal for him to possess due to his Student Visa status.”
The Code of Virginia prohibits the sale of assault firearms to people who are not citizens or legal permanent residents. According to the Virginia State Police, nonimmigrant aliens can possess a firearm if they meet certain requirements such as having a valid hunting license under the Federal Gun Control Act.
Zhao, who had no known criminal history, was also found to be researching bulletproof vests and purchased an old police vehicle that still bears some police markings, which he equipped with a special bumper.
It was over a decade ago when Virginia Tech became the scene of a deadly mass shooting that left 33 people dead, including gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
The university released a statement on its website on Tuesday noting that the police responded earlier to rumors that “someone on campus” had been “stockpiling weapons.” The statement explained that Zhao’s arrest was not related to the rumor.
However, in the statement released by authorities, police noted the possibility that the case investigation, which spanned several weeks, sparked the rumor.
Zhao is currently detained at the Montgomery County Jail without bail. A preliminary hearing for his charges is scheduled for March 1.
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