SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – U.S. Bureau of Land Management confirms the gun used in a seemingly random killing on San Francisco’s Pier 14 last week was once the property of the agency.
Bureau spokeswoman Dana Wilson told KPIX 5 Wednesday morning that the firearm in question was issued to a BLM law enforcement ranger who was on official government travel when his vehicle was broken into.
Wilson said the Bureau reported the gun theft was immediately reported to the San Francisco Police Department.
“The Bureau of Land Management is deeply saddened by the tragic events of July 1, 2015, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of (Kathryn) Steinle,” Wilson said over email.
San Francisco police divers recovered the .40 caliber handgun from the San Francisco Bay the day after 32-year-old Steinle was shot to death.
Sources told KPIX 5 forensic technicians traced the serial number back to a federal agency.
On Tuesday at his arraignment, prime suspect Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez used an interpreter to enter a not guilty plea. Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who is roughly 45-years-old and who has been deported from the United States on multiple occasions for various felonies, is charged with murder. His bail was set at $5 millon.
Lopez-Sanchez’ public defender Matt Gonzalez told the judge the death of Steinle was tragic but that “very likely this was an accidental shooting.”
In a jailhouse interview with Telemundo, the Mexican national admitted to shooting Steinle with a gun he found underneath a bench wrapped in a T-shirt.
Gonzales said Lopez-Sanchez may have not understood the weight of that admission.