SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Homeland Security on Friday announced that the suspect in the random shooting death of a San Francisco woman who was visiting Pier 14 on The Embarcadero was previously deported five times, most recently in 2009.
Francisco Sanchez, 45, had seven prior felony convictions for drugs, investigators said.
Investigators say that Sanchez shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, of San Francisco, Wednesday night in front several witnesses in a random act of violence.
Steinle was walking along the dock at Pier 14 around 6:30 p.m. with her father and a family friend. Her father had his arm around her the moment the gunman opened fire.
Steinle was shot in the upper torso.
Homeland Security says they had Sanchez in custody four months ago and was ready to deport him, but the San Francisco Police Department said they wanted him first on outstanding drug charges.
Statement from ICE:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged an immigration detainer against the man arrested by the San Francisco Police Department for Wednesday night’s fatal shooting in the Embarcadero. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases indicate the individual charged in this case has been previously deported five times, most recently in 2009. His criminal history includes seven prior felony convictions, four involving narcotics charges.
ICE’s latest encounter with the murder suspect occurred in March when he was remanded to our custody after serving a multi-year federal prison sentence for felony re-entry after deportation. According to DHS databases, ICE turned the individual over to local authorities in San Francisco March 26 on an outstanding drug warrant. DHS records indicate ICE lodged an immigration detainer on the subject at that time, requesting notification prior to his release so ICE officers could make arrangements to take custody. The detainer was not honored.
ICE places detainers on aliens arrested on criminal charges to ensure dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails into our communities. The agency remains committed to working collaboratively with its law enforcement partners to ensure the public’s safety.”
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office said once they determined Sanchez had no warrants and had completed his federal time, he was released from jail. This despite the fact that ICE had asked they be notified when he was out of custody.
Sheriff’s officials did not do that because department policy and the city ordinance prevents that.
San Francisco policy on illegal immigrants states that a law enforcement official shall not detain an individual on the basis of a civil immigration detainer after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody.
Meanwhile, Steinle’s death has left her family devastated and confused as to why she was targeted.
“It makes no sense, but often life doesn’t,” Kate’s mother Liz Sullivan said. “We’ve felt so blessed. We’ve known how blessed we’ve been and this is just-we see how some people go through terrible things, and I guess it’s our turn.”
Kate’s sister-in-law tells KRON 4 that Kate was a successful medical device sales representative who loved helping people. She was walking along the Pier with her father when she was shot. Her cousin wasn’t there but described what happened.