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UPPER DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A Taiwanese exchange student accused of threatening a shooting at his high school had ammunition in the home where he was staying and researched how to buy weapons, police said Wednesday.

The 18-year-old student, An Tso Sun, threatened to “shoot up” the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School on May 1, Upper Darby police said. Sun later said he was joking but was charged with making terroristic threats, they said.

“Kudos to the person who stepped forward and helped to avert a tragedy,” the police department said in a tweet.

A military-style ballistic vest, ammunition clip pouches, a high-powered crossbow and live ammunition were found in Sun’s bedroom in Lansdowne, Superintendent Michael Chitwood said. A search of his school-issued iPad indicated searches on how to buy an AK-47 or an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, police said.

Defense attorney Enrique Latoison said his client “had no intention or plans” to commit a school shooting and many items found were what he wore to school for a Halloween costume contest.

“I don’t believe what he said rises to the crime of terroristic threatening,” Latoison said. “He said, ‘Just kidding.’ I understand the heightened sensitivity, but he is not from here, he didn’t possess the same social skills of what it is to grow up in the post-Columbine generation. … You and I understand that it’s not a funny joke, but maybe he doesn’t understand that.”

He declined to comment on the allegations that ammunition was found and the defendant researched buying weapons but said that even if true neither was illegal.

Sun was taken to Delaware County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 11.


This story has been corrected to show Latoison is a defense attorney, not a public defender.