SAN FRANCISCO—Kathryn Steinle, 32, of San Francisco was shot and killed at Pier 14 on Wednesday, July 1, at 6:30 p.m. Steinle was walking along the waterfront with her father, Jim Steinle, when she allegedly became the victim of a what authorities are calling a “random shooting.”
The motive for the Pier 14 murder is still under investigation. Local authorities stated, “her murder makes no sense, and appears to be totally random. There does not appear to be any connection between the victim and the suspect.” Sgt. Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco Police Department stated, “there were no words exchanged between them. The victim said something to her family members stating that she didn’t feel well; that something had just taken place with respect to her [condition], before she fell to the ground.”
Shortly after being shot, Steinle died during surgery at San Francisco General Hospital.
One hour after the incident, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, was found one mile from the scene of the crime, and was arrested for firing the lethal shot. According to local authorities, Lopez-Sanchez was in the country illegally, and on probation in the state of Texas. Immigration officials stated that Lopez-Sanchez had been convicted of a total of seven felonies dating back to 1991. Four of his felonies were drug-related offenses involving narcotics; the remaining three felonies were due to illegal re-entry into the country. The suspect is an undocumented immigrant who had been deported to Mexico five times; his most recent deportation was in 2009.
Lopez-Sanchez had recently served a multiple-year sentence and was released from federal prison on March 26. After his release, he remained in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for illegal re-entry, but was handed over to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) for an outstanding marijuana possession warrant shortly after. Lopez-Sanchez was cleared of the charge, but was held in jail for three weeks to ensure that no active warrants remained in his name. He was released on April 15.
Reports state that Lopez-Sanchez’s detainment by the SFPD prevented him from being deported to Mexico for a sixth time. According to local reports, San Francisco has a policy regarding undocumented immigrants which loosely states that an individual cannot be detained on the basis of illegal immigration until they are released from the crime they were first arrested for. It was stated that the city’s policy will not be changing due to this incident.
Prior to his release, ICE had requested an immigration detainer, as well as notification from the SFPD of his official release. This request was not fulfilled by the sheriff’s department, on the basis that it violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and that there was no probable cause for further detainment after Lopez-Sanchez had already served his multiple-year federal prison sentence. The suspect was released without an order of removal or any notification to the ICE.
As it stands, Lopez-Sanchez is currently in the San Francisco County Jail facing homicide charges, which may be announced as early as Monday, July 6.