When 22-year-old Xiaoteng Zhan entered a gun shop in New York’s Madison County with the intent of buying an AR-15 rifle and other high capacity shotguns, he had a valid student visa and a newly acquired hunting license — all that is needed to purchase an assault weapon.
However, the shop owner refused and potentially saved countless lives with his decision to not sell what has become mass shooters’ weapon of choice to Zhan, who was reportedly planning to carry out a heinous act at Syracuse University.
The owner then followed Zhan out of the store and noted his license plate before alerting the police. The authorities later found out the suspect had visited Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy the assault rifle, only to be turned down again.
Even though mere suspicion wasn’t enough for the police officers to obtain a search warrant, they did investigate the student and found out he had previously sought psychiatric help and displayed signs of depression, suicidal behavior and a possibility of losing control and act violently.
Since Zhan then went to Mexico on his spring break, the cops were unable to find him. But luckily, a maintenance man found a stash of ammunition while responding to the complaint of alarm going off in the 22-year-old’s apartment.
Zhan, who has since been deported to China, allegedly accumulated a gun, ammunition and other accessories in his apartment off-campus. He had also told a friend about “the dark side” compelling him to stockpile such items and even said “I might use the gun to cause trouble” and “I have been preparing,” according to Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Derek McGork.
“The reason I want to buy guns is not to go hunting,” he reportedly admitted to his friends. “I might do something extreme in the future.”
It was after his friends alerted the school that the police got a search warrant and confiscated the ammunition at Zhan’s home. He was then committed to a psychiatric hospital as the university revoked his status as a student.
Federal agents then deported him, informing Chinese officials of the incident.
Fortunately, Zhan went on a spring break, giving law enforcement agency enough time to collect evidence and further investigate the young man. However, had it not been for Dick's and the gun shop owner who refused to sell him an AR-15 rifle, who knows how many lives would have been lost.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, George Frey