Yunsong Zhao, a 19-year-old Chinese student attending class at Virginia Tech, was charged with possessing an assault rifle earlier this year. After a lot of speculations and the case looking like Zhao being targeted because he was a gun-owning Asian on an American campus that recently saw a deadly mass shooting, the charges have now been dropped.
On Monday, a judge dismissed the gun charges and Zhao is back in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with his future being uncertain in America.
Zhao was facing a felony charge for having an assault weapon on the campus. After the case was dismissed, Zhao put his hands in the air, smiled and said “finally” to his lawyer.
The jury trial focused on the size of the magazines in an AR-15 rifle. A Blacksburg detective had seen Zhao with a magazine he was not legally allowed to use.The judge said there was reasonable doubt about the testimony and ruled out that Zhao was not guilty and dismissed the 12-member jury.
During the trial, there were around two dozen supporters outside the Christiansburg courthouse, who were all glad that Zhao was cleared.
There were a lot of reasons why the allegations were not justified, but mostly because there was no evidence against Zhao that he had done any such thing. He supposedly had a 30-round magazine, which as a resident alien shouldn’t be with him, but while he was arrested, no such magazine was found. There was no evidence that he ever had such a magazine.
In fact, the store that Zhao purchased the rifle from noted he traded the standard 30-round magazine in for a sling, indicating he intended to follow the law.
Though Zhao is free of charges, yet his problems aren’t over. His student visa has expired and he is in ICE’s custody at present. His future in America is in the hands of an immigration judge, who will decide if he gets to stay in the US or goes back to China.
Sherman-Stoltz, Zhao’s attorney said that he has a hearing on Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, in immigration court. She also said that Zhao wants to stay in America and pursue a law degree. One way to stay in America would be for Zhao to re-apply for a student visa.
Sherman-Stoltz said they will be seeking asylum for Zhao, but didn’t elaborate on what grounds. She also said a judge could rule for him to be deported back to China.