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Ex-Virginia Tech student denied bail on gun possession

China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-02-02 16:15

A former Virginia Tech freshman from China charged with illegally owning an assault rifle was denied bail on Thursday, News 10 Blacksburg reported.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and chains, Yunsong Zhao, 19, arrived in the Montgomery County courtroom to face the class 6 felony charges.

Before his arrest on Monday following a weeks-long investigation by police, Zhao had been observed firing a Buschmaster XM-15 at a nearby shooting range, according to a warrant.

The gun was illegal because it had a 30-round magazine in it, which by law changes the status of the firearm from a rifle to an assault weapon, the warrant said.

Zhao also tried to purchase 5,000 rounds of ammunition and had been researching bulletproof vests, the warrant added. He also bought a former police vehicle that still had some police markings and fitted it with a special bumper.

The judge said he would have granted Zhao bond were it not for an ICE detainer that had been placed on the former student.

Zhao's attorney showed pictures in court suggesting that his client did not have a 30-round magazine, but rather a 20-round magazine attached to the Buschmaster XM-15 at the gun range.

Zhao, who has family in China, has no known criminal history and had been living in Cochrane Hall dormitory, the warrant said.

Virginia Tech said that as of Tuesday, Zhao was no longer a student at the university, though he was at the time of his arrest, USA Today reported.

Zhao took the stand on Thursday only to answers questions from his attorney relating to the bond hearing.

Zhao is expected to be back in court in March.

In 2007, a lone gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus.

The university released a statement on its website Tuesday evening saying they had received many calls of concern from the community after reports of a student being arrested on a weapons charge.

"The arrest followed an investigation that spanned several weeks, and the suspect is now in custody," the statement read. "At no time during this investigation did police believe there was any threat to our community, nor is there one now."

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