A while back, we reported on Chinese student Yunsong Zhao who was arrested for having an assault rifle. There were a lot of inconsistencies in the story, and what it looked like was a case of Zhao being targeted because he was a gun-owning Asian on a campus that’s a little gun shy (pardon the term) after a deadly mass shooting in the not so distant past.
Luckily for Zhao, the charges have now been dropped.
A judge dismissed a gun charge Monday against a former Virginia Tech student in a Montgomery County case people around the country have been following.
Yunsong Zhao, a Chinese national, is now back in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and his future in America is uncertain.
He was accused of having an assault rifle on campus and faced a felony charge.
A judge didn’t allow cameras in the courtroom Monday but Zhao, now 20 years old and wearing a suit, put his hands in the air, smiled and said “finally” to his lawyer when the judge said he was dismissing the charge.
The jury trial focused on the size of the magazines in an AR-15 rifle. A Blacksburg detective said he saw Zhao with a magazine he was not legally allowed to use. The judge said there was reasonable doubt about the testimony and decided to rule that Zhao was not guilty and dismiss the 12-member jury.
The at least two dozen supporters who gathered outside the Christiansburg courthouse during the trial said they’re glad he’s cleared.
To say there was reasonable doubt is putting it mildly. There were a number of reasons why the allegations were questionable, though, but mostly because there was no evidence Zhao had done any such thing. Part of the problem was he supposedly had a 30-round magazine, something that he as a resident alien couldn’t have, but when he was arrested, there was no sign of such a magazine. There was no evidence 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.
Zhao is now a free man, but his troubles are far from over.
You see, his student visa has expired. He’s currently in ICE’s custody. It’s now up to an immigration judge whether Zhao gets to stay in the United States or be sent back to China. Right now, he doesn’t know what his future holds, and that’s a problem. It would be for anyone.
Sherman-Stoltz, Zhao’s attorney, said he could be allowed to stay in the U.S., but a judge in immigration court could also rule that he has to go back to China. She said he has a hearing Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, in immigration court.
Zhao’s attorneys said he wants to stay in America and pursue a law degree. They said he hopes he can use his career to help people. One path to staying 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.
Here’s wishing Zhao the best. He’s been through a lot, and he has a lot more to go through, but at least the big problem has been solved. However, if he needs asylum, then maybe the big problem is still looming for him.