Former Virginia Tech student files lawsuit against university, police departments over his arrest

Yunsong Zhao claims he was targeted him because of his national origin

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A former Virginia Tech student is suing the university for violating his rights.

This comes after police arrested him on charges of having an assault weapon.

Yunsong Zhao claims Virginia Tech, the campus' police department and Blacksburg police targeted him because of his national origin and his interest in guns, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.

Virginia Tech police arrested 19-year-old Zhao on Jan. 29 and charged him with possessing or transporting an assault firearm while not being a  U.S. citizen or while not being lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the U.S, according to the arrest warrant.

According to the warrant, a Blacksburg police detective saw Zhao firing the gun with the 30-round magazine attached while at a shooting range.


Zhao claims the organizations named in the suit violated his constitutional rights when they arrested him in January.

The lawsuit states:

This case is about over-eager police trampling over a foreign student's rights because he resembles a student who committed a mass shooting on Virginia Tech's campus in 2007.

Much of the lawsuit hinges on what Zhao's attorney says was misidentification of ammunition police say Zhao had.

Zhao wants to be reinstated at Tech and wants this case to go to trial to determine damages.

In March, a judge certified the charges against Zhao, but did say, "Based on what I’ve seen today, the commonwealth is going to have a hard time with its case.”

Zhao was then placed under the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


A spokesman for Virginia Tech said the university has not been served with the suit and has not seen it, so it cannot comment.

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