SAN FRANCISCO (AP/CBS SF) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management promoted a ranger months after his stolen gun turned up in the hands of a Mexican man accused of using it to kill a woman on a San Francisco pier, according to media reports.
KQED News said an internal BLM email thread it obtained shows that Ranger John Woychowski was promoted to a supervisory position five months after Kate Steinle’s July 2015 death.
Woychowski had reported that the gun was stolen from the backseat of his car a few days before Steinle’s killing. The man accused of killing Steinle, Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, said the gun was wrapped in T-shirt he found under a bench, and it went off accidentally.
BLM spokeswoman Sarah Webster said Friday Woychowski followed proper protocol for reporting the gun stolen.
Alison Cordova, an attorney for the Steinle family, told KQED Woychowski could have faced criminal charges for the way he kept the gun in the car.
Steinle’s death set off a national debate over U.S. sanctuary cities and immigration. Zarate had been deported five times and was living in the country illegally at the time of the shooting.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department had released him from jail after a minor marijuana charge was dismissed despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for possible deportation.
As a candidate for president, Donald Trump used the shooting to argue for tougher immigration policies.
A jury and five alternate jurors were seated and sworn-in Wednesday in the murder trial of Garcia-Zarate.
Zarate has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Opening statements are set to begin Monday.
Defense attorneys have said they expect to argue that the shooting, which appeared to be the result of a ricochet, was accidental.
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