A man accused of gunning down a woman Wednesday along a popular San Francisco waterfront is a convicted felon who has been deported several times, government officials said.
Francisco Sanchez, 45, who was arrested in connection with the apparently random slaying of Kathryn Steinle, 32, while she walked along the city’s Pier 14 with her father, was last deported in 2009 — the fifth time he had been sent back to Mexico, authorites said.
“His criminal history includes seven prior felony convictions, four involving narcotics charges,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement, Fox News reported Friday.
Eyewitnesses at the scene were able to take several photos of Mr. Sanchez, helping police find and arrest him about an hour after the fatal shooting.
ICE officials said they had the suspect in custody in March after he served a “felony re-entry” charge, but turned him over to San Francisco authorities on an outstanding drug warrant, Fox reported. Mr. Sanchez had been on on probation for an unspecified conviction, according to a police official.
He was not returned to ICE, despite the agency issuing a detainer to take him back into custody once he was released by the city.
“Here’s a jurisdiction that’s not even honoring our detainer for someone who clearly is an egregious offender,” an ICE official told Fox.
A representative for San Francisco’s police department did not respond to Fox’s request for comment.
Freya Horne, counsel for the sheriff’s office, said Friday that federal detention orders are not a legal basis to hold someone, so Mr. Sanchez was released April 15, the Associated Press reported. San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and local money cannot be spent to cooperate with federal immigration law.
The city does not turn over people who are in the country illegally unless there’s an active warrant for their arrest, she said. Horne said they checked and found none. ICE could have issued an active warrant if they wanted the city to keep him, she said.
“It’s not legal to hold someone on a request to detain. This is not just us. This is a widely adopted position,” Ms. Horne said.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.