SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An undocumented immigrant was arrested four times, including an August homicide allegedly committed with a gun stolen from a San Francisco police officer’s personal vehicle, while wearing a ICE GPS tracking device on his ankle, sources told KPIX 5.
In a statement released Friday, ICE said an immigration judge had ordered 18-year-old Erick Garcia Pineda to wear the tracking device after his release from federal detention in April. He was also order to report to ICE agents.
“Mr. Garcia-Pineda (was) released with the requirement that he wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and report to ICE in-person on a regular basis,” the ICE statement said. “Databases indicate Mr. Garcia-Pineda was complying with terms of his release until August when he failed to appear for his scheduled appointment with ICE.”
Sources told KPIX 5 that Garcia-Pineda has had several run-ins with San Francisco police since his release from federal custody while wearing the GPS tracking device.
On June 18th, Pineda was arrested by San Francisco police after being stopped for driving without a vehicle registration, although the specific charge was unclear. Two months later on Aug. 18th, he was arrested for shooting at an inhabited dwelling and assault with firearm.
Finally on Sept. 3, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Sources told KPIX 5 that the GPS device was removed by San Francisco police officers after the Sept. 3rd arrest.
In its statement, ICE officials said they asked after the Sept. 3rd arrest that Pineda be held on a immigration hold.
“Despite the detainer, local authorities released him back into the community without providing any notification to ICE,” federal authorities said.
Later Friday, ICE spokesman James Schwab issued another statement seeking to clarify the timeline:
Records reviewed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicate that Mr. Garcia-Pineda’s GPS ankle bracelet was removed Aug. 19. On that date, the contractor responsible for monitoring aliens released by ICE on ankle bracelets received a tamper alert emitted by Mr. Garcia-Pineda’s device. Subsequently, ICE initiated efforts to locate this individual, but because the tracking device was no longer functioning the search was initially unsuccessful. ICE then communicated with Mr. Garcia-Pineda’s attorney, instructing him to direct his client to report to ICE in person immediately. However, Mr. Garcia-Pineda failed to appear.
Following Mr. Garcia-Pineda’s arrest Sept. 3 by the San Francisco Police Department, ICE received an electronic notification through its Secure Communities system and lodged an immigration detainer against him. As previously stated, local authorities failed to honor that detainer and released Mr. Garcia-Pineda back into the community. However, by that time ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations was aware this individual was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation and accordingly didn’t want to take any action that might impede or jeopardize that investigation.
The gun used in last month’s homicide, a personal firearm registered to an unidentified officer, was stolen from his car on August 12, police said.
Three days later, on August 15, officers responded to reports of a shooting and found a 23-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds.
The victim, identified as Abel Enrique Esquivel Jr., had been shot near the intersection of Cesar Chavez St. and Folsom Ave. as he walked home from work around 2 a.m.
Esquivel Jr. was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, but died from gunshot wounds to his abdomen and chest the next day.
Investigators determined the gun used in the homicide was the same one stolen from the officer’s car three day before.
Police arrested two suspects on Monday: Pineda and 24-year-old Jesus Perez-Araujo, both San Francisco residents.
A third suspect was arrested Tuesday. Police identified him as Daniel Cruz, 18, also of San Francisco.
Pineda was booked of charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy, burglary and attempted murder; Cruz on murder, conspiracy, robbery and possession of stolen property; and Perez-Araujo on robbery, burglary and conspiracy.
San Francisco police Chief Bill Scott said, “We have confirmed that the gun was used in the homicide. We do have a personnel investigation to determine the circumstances under which how that gun was stolen, how it was secured.”
Outside Wednesday night’s police commission meeting at City Hall, a commissioner commented on the incident.
“I was surprised,” said San Francisco Police Commissioner Petra DeJesus. “Given the fact that guns in officers’ cars have been in the news in the last 18 months and crime being committed by that. I was concerned and surprised that there wouldn’t be more care in leaving a gun in a car.”
Earlier on Wednesday, San Francisco Police Officer’s Association president Martin Halloran issued a statement saying the officer did not know his weapon had been stolen.
“There were no visible signs of the burglary, and the officer did not realize that the vehicle had been broken into, nor that the firearm had been stolen,” said Halloran.
“The officer, a highly-decorated veteran, is devastated. He is working with the department to fully comply with its investigation into this case.”
Last year, the state of California enacted a law requiring all individuals, including law enforcement, to lock all weapons in an unattended car in a trunk or a lock box attached to the frame.
The city of San Francisco has a similar policy.