SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The man arrested in the shooting death of a woman who was walking along San Francisco’s Embarcadero with her family is an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported five times, according to federal officials.
Texas resident Francisco Sanchez had been detained as a person of interest south along the Embarcadero shortly after allegedly shooting 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 on Wednesday. Witnesses on the pier snapped his photo, which was quickly forwarded to officers investigating the killing.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records indicate Sanchez had been previously deported five times, most recently in 2009, according to ICE spokesperson Virgina Kice. His criminal history includes seven prior felony convictions, four involving narcotics charges.
Kice said Sanchez returned to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he served a multi-year federal prison sentence for reentering the United States after deportation.
According to DHS databases, ICE turned Sanchez over to the San Francisco Police Department March 26 on an outstanding drug warrant. At that time, ICE lodged an immigration detainer, requesting notification prior to his release “so ICE officers could make arrangements to take custody,” Rice said. But the detainer was not honored.
San Francisco is one of many “sanctuary cities,” which prohibits city employees from helping ICE with immigration investigations or arrests unless its required by law or a warrant.
“ICE places detainers on aliens arrested on criminal charges to ensure dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails into our communities,” Kice said.
Freya Horne, an attorney for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, told the Associated Press on Friday it had no authority to honor an immigration hold when it released Sanchez.
Horne said that federal detention orders are not a “legal basis” to hold someone, so Sanchez was released April 15. She added that the city does not turn over people who are in the country illegally unless there’s an active warrant for their arrest.
Police said Steinle, who had recently moved to San Francisco, suffered a single gunshot wound to her torso and that the shooting appeared to be completely random.
“There were no words exchanged between the suspect and the victim,” said Sgt. Michael Andraychak. “The victim said something to her family members to the extent that she didn’t feel well, that she just realized something had taken place and she fell to the ground.”