The gun used in the homicide of a 32-year-old woman at Pier 14 near San Francisco’s Ferry Building last week is the same gun that was reported stolen by a U.S. Bureau of Land Management law enforcement ranger and then later recovered by divers from the San Francisco Bay shortly after the shooting.
San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said the San Francisco Police Department’s forensic crime laboratory has confirmed, based on a ballistic comparison, that:
“… the fatal round that struck the victim was from the gun recovered in the SF Bay.”
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who has been deported from the U.S. five times and who is now charged in the killing of San Francisco resident and Pleasanton native Kathryn Steinle, allegedly fired the weapon around 6:30 p.m. on July 1 before dropping it into the bay waters.
The gun was issued to a Bureau of Land Management law enforcement ranger “was on official government travel when his vehicle was broken into and the theft occurred,” according to Dana Wilson, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.
She said the ranger immediately reported the theft to the San Francisco Police Department.
San Francisco police are continuing to investigate who broke into the ranger’s vehicle and how Lopez-Sanchez might have acquired the firearm.
Lopez-Sanchez pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder with malice aforethought and weapon enhancements and remains in custody on $5 million bail.
Lopez-Sanchez’s release from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department’s custody, despite a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer in April, has spurred national debate on immigration laws and the role local authorities should play in enforcing such laws.
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s decision to allow the undocumented immigrant with a history of convicted felonies loose on the city’s streets has come under scrutiny and it remains unclear how many other undocumented immigrants with felonies, either violent or non-violent, have been released into the city.
While San Francisco has a “sanctuary city” policy that prohibits law enforcement officials from detaining an individual on the basis of an immigration detainer when they would otherwise be eligible for release from custody, Mirkarimi has not honored any ICE detainer requests so far this year.
Mirkarimi defended his actions today, saying federal authorities seeking Lopez-Sanchez’s deportation should have obtained a court order, so as not to violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.