Police were able to thwart another potential mass shooting, this time the attack was aimed at Syracuse University. It's all thanks to one gun shop owner who denied the possible shooter an AR-15, despite having all the legal rights to purchase one.
Twenty-two year old student Xiaoteng Zhan was deported to China by federal agents March 20, according to Syracuse.com. He had stockpiled a gun, ammunition and accessories in his off-campus apartment.
Zhan confessed to a friend that "the dark side" had prompted him to buy a gun, bulletproof vest and other things, according to Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Derek McGork.
"I might use the gun to cause trouble," Zhan reportedly said. "I have been preparing."
A fearful friend begged him not to shoot children or to kill her. Zhan allegedly told her, "You're the only one I don't want to kill."
Police were able to arrest Zhan prior to carrying out the threat. They reportedly worked with a gun shop in New York's Madison County to track the potential shooter on spring break in Mexico. The gun shop reported that Zhan wanted to purchase an AR-15, a weapon that has been used by mass shooters in previous incidents.
The shop owner called police. He noted that Zhan was in the states legally on a student visa and he had a valid hunting license that he had purchased the day previous. He also asked for other high capacity shotguns.
Zhan should have been able to purchase the weapons legally, but the shop owner refused. The owner then followed Zhan to his car and wrote down his license plate number. Police learned he went to Dick's Sporting Goods asking about assault rifle. He was denied there as well.
Police weren't able to get a search warrant but they did learn that Zhan had sought psychiatric help at two different facilities. He exhibited suicidal behavior, depression and a feeling that he might lose control and act violently. Zhan was then put on the list of people prohibited to purchasing weapons.
They still couldn't find Zhan, but an alarm kept going off in his apartment and neighbors complained. A maintenance man entered the unit and found ammunition.
At that point, Zhan was in Mexico with friends and was continuing to talk about his angst and intentions.
"The reason I want to buy guns is not to go hunting... I might do something extreme in the future," he confessed.
His friends reached out to the school, which gave police enough to get a search warrant and commit Zhan to a psychiatric hospital. They found weapons and ammunition in his apartment.
The university then revoked his visa and police deported the potential shooter back to China, informing authorities there about the troubled young man.
Authorities noted they were lucky Zhan left for the holiday break and in the future they might not be as lucky.