Shooting of Kathryn Steinle

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Shooting of Kathryn Steinle
Pier 14, SF 4.JPG
Pier 14, site of the shooting
Location Pier 14, San Francisco, California, U.S.
Date July 1, 2015 (2015-07-01)
6:30 p.m.
Weapon .40-caliber SIG Sauer P239 handgun
Victim Kathryn Steinle
Suspected perpetrator
Francisco Sanchez (in custody)

On July 1, 2015, an illegal immigrant fired a gun three times on Pier 14 in the Embarcadero district in San Francisco, California. One bullet struck 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in the back. She died two hours later at a hospital. A homeless man, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was arrested.[1] Because Lopez-Sanchez is an illegal alien from Mexico who had previously been deported on five different occasions,[2] the shooting sparked controversy and political debate over San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city.

Kathryn Steinle

Kate Steinle

Kathryn Michelle "Kate" Steinle (December 13, 1982 – July 1, 2015) was originally from Pleasanton, California, and graduated from Amador Valley High School and California Polytechnic State University, earning a communications degree from the latter.[3] She was employed at Medtronic in San Francisco, and was living on Beale Street. Her funeral was held at a winery in Pleasanton on July 9.[4]

Shooting

At 6:30 p.m., a gunman, alleged to be Francisco Sanchez, fired three shots from a .40-caliber handgun at Pier 14, a tourist attraction area at the Embarcadero district. One of the bullets struck Steinle in the chest and pierced her aorta. She collapsed to the floor while screaming for help to her father Jim, who was accompanying her at the pier.[3] Jim Steinle performed CPR on her before paramedics arrived and sent her to an ambulance. She died two hours later at San Francisco General Hospital. Sanchez was arrested about an hour later one mile away from the pier and was booked into San Francisco County Jail on suspicion of murder.[5] The shooting was believed by police to be random. Divers from a police boat found the gun in the bay later that night.[6][7]

The gun used by Sánchez was stolen from a Bureau of Land Management officer's vehicle on June 27, 2015 according to the Bureau of Land Management.[8]

Legal proceedings

Sanchez was formally charged with first-degree murder and a firearm enhancement on July 6. Sanchez admitted in a KGO-TV interview that he committed the shooting but said he found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench after taking sleep pills he found from a trash can. He also claimed that he was aiming at sea lions and that Steinle's shooting was accidental.[9] He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was held on $5 million bail.[10] Sanchez's attorney, Matt Gonzalez, stated in court that the shooting was likely accidental.[11]

On July 28, prosecutors filed an additional charge against Sanchez: being a felon in possession of a firearm.[12] On September 4, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy stated that there was enough evidence to try Sanchez. Initially charged with first-degree murder, Sanchez will be tried for second-degree murder. If found guilty of the charges of second-degree murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and an enhancement of using a firearm, Sanchez could face a life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 45 years. A jury can also decide if he is guilty of manslaughter.[13][14]

Investigation

The gun used in the shooting was confirmed by forensic crime laboratory technicians to be the same one stolen from a federal agent's car. The .40-caliber handgun had been taken from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's car that was parked in downtown San Francisco, on June 27, 2015.[15] The ranger was in San Francisco for an official government business trip. The ranger immediately reported the theft to San Francisco police, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center. Police issued a citywide crime alert but did not call in CSI technicians to examine the scene.[16]

On July 10, San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said during a press conference that federal authorities failed to provide legal basis to hold Sanchez, and that the sheriff's department followed procedure and local laws when they released Sanchez after a years-old warrant on a marijuana charge was dismissed. A federal immigration request had asked the SFSD to hold Sanchez until US authorities could take him into custody for deportation proceedings.[17]

Based on a ballistics expert, it has been stated that the shot was fired accidentally.[18]

Lawsuit

On September 1, Steinle's parents announced that they will file a lawsuit against the City of San Francisco and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), finding them liable in Kathryn Steinle's death.[19]

Suspect

Francisco Sanchez
Born José Inez García Zarate
Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Occupation Unemployed
Criminal charge Second-degree murder, enhancement of using a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm[13]
Criminal status In jail
Capture status
Arrested on July 1, 2015

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Francisco Sanchez

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez (or Francisco Sanchez; given name José Inez García Zarate),[20] of Guanajuato, Mexico, had been deported from the U.S. a total of five times, most recently in 2009. He was on probation in Texas during the time of the shooting.[21] He had seven felony convictions. At the time of the shooting, Sanchez was listed as 45 years old by police, but 52 in jail records.[citation needed]

Sanchez arrived to the U.S. sometime before 1991, the year he was convicted of his first drug charge in Arizona. In 1993, he was convicted three times in Washington state for felony heroin possession and manufacturing narcotics. Following another drug conviction and jail term, this time in Oregon, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) deported Sanchez in June 1994. However, Sanchez returned to the U.S. within two years and was convicted again of heroin possession in Washington state. He was deported for the second time in 1997.[20]

On February 2, 1998, Sanchez was deported for the third time, after reentering the U.S. through Arizona. United States Border Patrol caught him six days later at a border crossing, and a federal court sentenced Sanchez to five years and three months in federal prison for unauthorized reentry. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), formerly INS, deported Sanchez in 2003 for his fourth deportation. However, he reentered the U.S. through the Texas border and got another federal prison sentence for reentry before being deported for the fifth time in June 2009.[20]

Less than three months after his fifth deportation, Sanchez was caught attempting to cross the border in Eagle Pass, Texas. He pleaded guilty to felony reentry; upon sentencing, a federal court recommended Sanchez be placed in "a federal medical facility as soon as possible."[20]

On March 26, 2015, at the request of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had turned Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities for an outstanding drug warrant.[22] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had issued a detainer for Sanchez requesting that he be kept in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up. As a sanctuary city, however, which limits cooperation with ICE only to cases where active charges against the immigrant are identified, San Francisco did not honor the detainer and released him, since they found no active warrant for his arrest.[23] San Francisco officials transported Sanchez to San Francisco County Jail on March 26, 2015 to face a 20-year-old felony charge of selling and possessing marijuana after Sanchez completed his latest prison term in San Bernardino County for entering in the country without the proper documents.[16] He was released from San Francisco County Jail on April 15, and had no outstanding warrants or judicial warrants, as confirmed by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.[21]

Reaction

The killing sparked criticism and political debate over San Francisco's sanctuary city policy, which aims to strengthen community safety by disallowing local officials from questioning a resident's immigration status, thus enabling local victims of crime to report without fear of deportation. Multiple Republican presidential candidates, including Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, made statements blaming the immigration policy for Steinle's death, and encouraged the need for a secure border wall.[24][25] White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that the U.S. would be safer if Republican lawmakers had improved comprehensive immigration reform backed by President Barack Obama.[26]

2016 U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined California Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein (D) in condemning the policy that led to Steinle's death. Clinton said, "The city made a mistake, not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported ... So I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence that should be acted on."[27] That same week, Feinstein penned a public letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee that stated, "The tragic death of Ms. Steinle could have been avoided if the Sheriff's Department had notified ICE prior to the release of Mr. Sanchez, which would have allowed ICE to remove him from the country..."[28]

Local and state reaction

San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi received criticism by anti-illegal immigration activist groups, including Californians for Population Stabilization, and a range of politicians, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, for Sanchez's release from custody before he allegedly committed the shooting. Lee stated the sanctuary city ordinance allows the sheriff to coordinate with federal immigration and ICE agents. On July 7, Feinstein stated that the San Francisco County Sheriff's Department should have notified ICE before Sanchez was released, so that he could be deported from the county.[29] In a press conference held on July 10, Mirkarimi blamed federal prison and immigration officials for the series of events that led up to the release of Sanchez.[22][30][31]

Political commentator reactions

The Trump campaign released the viral video Act of Love, showing Sanchez and criticizing rival Jeb Bush's policy on illegal immigration.[32]

Fox News Channel political commentator Megyn Kelly criticized President Obama's silence on Steinle's murder, contrasting it to his direct comments on the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray.[33]

Bill O'Reilly met with Steinle's parents on July 13 on his show The O'Reilly Factor.[34] O'Reilly and Steinle's parents discussed the idea of a mandatory prison sentence for deported felons who return to the U.S., an idea the parents supported. The idea is being created as an online petition to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, advocating the proposal as "Kate's Law". In the days following the interview, the Steinle family was allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Kate's Law as hearings convened before the Congress' August vacation.[35]

Kate's Law

In response to the controversy, the United States House of Representatives passed what has been dubbed "Kate's Law", blocking states and cities from receiving federal law enforcement funding if they refuse to communicate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to their sanctuary policies. The law aims to create a budgetary consequence for refusal to follow federal law, as Sanchez would have instead been deported for the sixth time had the San Francisco Sheriff's Department not chosen to ignore the detainer hold placed on him.[36][37]

Reaction from victim's family

Brad Steinle, the victim's brother, has stated that he believes Donald Trump is sensationalizing this tragedy for his own political gain.[38]

See also

References

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