SF Tourist Shooting Suspect Deported 5 Times — Why San Francisco Prevented 6th Attempt

Are San Francisco authorities to blame for the fatal shooting of a woman at tourist attraction Pier 14? As Californians mourn the senseless death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, serious questions have been raised about the city’s immigration policies.

It is now known that the suspect in Steinle’s shooting is Francisco Sanchez. The Associated Press reports that the 45-year-old man was deported five times prior to the Wednesday night shooting, most recently in 2009. He also has seven felony convictions.

The very last attempt to remove him from the country saw U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hand Sanchez over authorities in San Francisco, California, on March 26. Captured on an outstanding warrant, federal immigration authorities requested Francisco be held until immigration officials could pick him up for deportation purposes.

Federal authorities didn’t know that lax San Francisco immigration policies would interfere with the 6th attempt to deport Francisco Sanchez. Freya Horne, counsel for the sheriff’s office, said that federal detention orders have no legal basis in the city. The only way police would hand over someone like the suspect is if he/she has an active warrant.

“It’s not legal [in this city] to hold someone on a request to detain. This is not just [San Francisco]. This is a widely adopted position.”

A “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants, San Francisco cannot spend any of its financial resources on cooperation with federal immigration laws. Sanchez was released on April 15 after local authorities failed to find an active warrant.

Months later, Kathryn Steinle was fatally shot. Witnesses to the incident, which occurred on Wednesday evening, said that no argument preceded the event. The victim had reportedly been out for a stroll with her father when it happened. The father of the victim applied CPR and she was soon after rushed to an area hospital, where she later died.

Witnesses to the shooting gave San Francisco police photographs they had taken of the gunman, a man authorities later identified as Francisco Sanchez.

The shooting in San Francisco may have serious ramifications on local immigration policies. If it is determined that the purposeful disregard for the detainer led to the woman’s death, it might even be grounds for a lawsuit. Even though San Francisco prides itself on a lax immigration system, stories like this shed an uncomfortable light on the possibility of such a system’s abuse by criminals.

Do you think the SF tourist shooting would have been prevented if the city held the suspect? Should San Francisco have stronger deportation policies where criminals are concerned? Share your thoughts on this event below.

[Image Credit: The San Francisco Police department]