HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — William Dong, of Fairfield, who was arrested in Dec. 2013 by West Haven Police after he was found in possession of two handguns, and a Bushmaster rifle in the vicinity of the University of New Haven was sentenced today in Hartford.
The 23-year-old, Dong was sentenced to five years of probation for transporting an assault weapon into Connecticut in violation of federal law. According to court documents and statements made in court, in September 2013, Dong traveled to Pennsylvania, purchased a Bushmaster model XM-15-E2S, .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle and transported the rifle back to Connecticut. This firearm is considered a prohibited assault weapon under Connecticut state law.
Dong, who is a UNH student, told police that he had purchased the rifle from a seller in Pennsylvania in September 2013 through an advertisement placed on http://www.armslist.com. Although it is not unlawful under federal law for an individual, who is not a prohibited person, to possess this Bushmaster firearm, it is a federal violation for an individual to purchase this firearm outside of Connecticut and travel into the state with it, since it is a prohibited firearm under Connecticut state law. Dong has been detained since his arrest. He has stated that he possessed the firearms out of concern for his safety and the safety of his fellow UNH students.
Dong pleaded guilty to the federal charge on Nov. 6, 2014. He also previously pleaded guilty in Milford Superior Court to state firearms offenses related to the Dec. 2013 incident in West Haven, and has been sentenced to eight years of incarceration, execution suspended after two years, and five years of probation.
In the federal case, Dong faced a sentencing guideline range of six to 12 months of imprisonment. Instead of imposing a sentence of incarceration, and which would be followed by a term of supervised of up to three years, Judge Chatigny imposed a five-year term of probation, the maximum allowed under the law. Judge Chatigny agreed with the government’s position that Dong’s state term of incarceration is sufficient, but that a longer period of federal supervision is necessary to insure the safety of the community.
As special conditions of probation, Judge Chatigny ordered that Dong cannot possess any firearms or ammunition, associate with individuals in possession of firearms or go to any shooting ranges. He also must submit to mental health counseling.
“A sentence of five years of probation with mental health counseling is an appropriate resolution to this case, as it will provide Mr. Dong with needed federal supervision,” stated U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly. “We want to thank the conscientious citizen who first alerted law enforcement that an individual was in possession of a powerful and potentially dangerous firearm. We also want to acknowledge the rapid response of the West Haven Police and University of New Haven Police, which quickly resolved this unsettling situation.”