The gun allegedly used by an undocumented immigrant to shoot and kill a woman on a San Francisco pier may have been stolen from a federal agent, sources close to the investigation told multiple media outlets Tuesday.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the .40-caliber handgun used in the July 1 shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was reported stolen in an auto burglary near downtown, and did not appear to be the agent's official gun.
The alleged shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was charged with murder on Monday.
The fatal shooting of Steinle as she took a stroll with her father last week set off a national debate about San Francisco’s policy to only honor immigration holds for people with violent records or who have an outstanding arrest warrant.
Sanchez said during a jail house interview with ABC affiliate KGO-TV that he had returned to San Francisco after being deported five times due to its status as a "sanctuary city" and because it had become harder to find work in places like Arizona.
His case has fanned the immigration debate, particularly as the 2016 campaign for president heats up. Republican candidate Donald Trump was the first to wade in, using the shooting to prod his competitors on Twitter. And in her first national TV interview as a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Sanchez should have been deported.
Sanchez, 45, was taken into custody earlier this year on a drug warrant and then released in April, despite a request from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials to transfer him into their custody for deportation.
San Francisco officials said there was no basis to hold Sanchez since he didn’t have any violent crime convictions or a warrant out for his arrest.
The Chronicle reported that the car burglary in which the gun was stolen occurred in June.
In his interview with KGO-TV that aired Monday, Sanchez claimed to have found the gun wrapped inside a T-shirt, and that it went off three times as he tried to unwrap it.
“I feel sorry for everybody,” Sanchez said in broken English.
“I want them to punish me like I deserve and as quickly as possible,” he later said in Spanish.
Steinle’s family launched a GoFundMe page to collect and donate funds to help the family “move forward,” with a portion of the money raised going to charities she supported.
Sanchez said he didn’t remember much of what occurred when he shot Steinle because he took a sleeping pill from a bottle he found on the street.
Later, he said he stepped on the T-shirt when he sat on a bench and noticed there was something heavy inside of it, which led him to unwrap the gun and subsequently set it off.
However, Sanchez also told the reporter that reports he told police he was trying to shoot a sea lion or a seal were true. He also said he remembers throwing the gun into the water before walking away.
Because of his limited English, it wasn’t always clear in the video if Sanchez understood the questions he was asked since he often gave conflicting accounts.
At the end of the interview, Sanchez said he wants police to put him in solitary confinement because he was told by law enforcement that inmates wanted to kill him.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at email@example.com.
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