‘Socially Awkward’ Chinese Student Gets 8 Months in Jail for Fake Gun Threat

A 25-year-old Chinese graduate student in the U.K. was sentenced to eight months of prison for brandishing and making threats with a fake Beretta 92 pistol.

Yihe Xiong, who was enrolled in a master’s program in computer science at the University of Exeter in South West England, was arrested on June 19 for waving a fake gun in the face of his classmate, according to Shanghaiist.

Xiong told his fellow students he had “12 bullets in this pistol and if my presentation goes badly I’m going to start opening fire.”

fake gun
Image via Devon and Cornwall Police

He also pointed the fake gun at several students and made jerking movements, witnesses recounted.

Armed police were immediately called in when they received reports of an armed man. Xiong, who is from a respectable family in China where his father was a judge, told the authorities it was only a joke or prank, The Guardian reported.

Image via BBC

Xiong admitted to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and received a sentence of eight months in jail.

“It was a calculated act of breathtaking stupidity,” Judge Peter Johnson said. “You are academically gifted but socially awkward and did this to impress and be admired.”

Lawyer Brian FitzHerbert, who was defending Xiong, said the student showed lack of judgment and wrongly believed he was being “cool, daring, and funny.”

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