A man accused of shooting and killing a 32-year-old Plesanton woman near the San Francisco Ferry Building last Wednesday had been deported five times for various felonies, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson reported.
Police arrested Francisco Sanchez, who was on probation out of Texas, on suspicion of killing Pleasanton resident Kathryn Steinle, a graduate of Amador Valley High School.
ICE officials took custody of Sanchez in March, when he was remanded to the agency after serving a multi-year federal prison sentence for felony re-entry following deportation, ICE spokesperson Gillian Christensen said.
ICE turned Sanchez over to San Francisco police on March 26 on an outstanding drug warrant, Christensen said.
The agency requested he be returned to ICE's custody upon his release, but that request was not honored, according to Christensen.
A spokesperson for the San Francisco Sheriff's Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
Christensen said Sanchez had been deported five times, most recently in 2009. His criminal history includes seven prior felonies, including four involving narcotics, Christensen said.
Steinle was with her family around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Pier 14, just off Embarcadero in the city's South Beach neighborhood, when she was struck by gunfire, Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.
Andraychak said medics found her suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the upper torso and transported her to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
No words were exchanged and Andraychak said there did not appear to be any connection between the victim and the suspect. He described the shooting as a "very random act."
Witnesses at the scene photographed the man and later their pictures helped lead to his arrest, Andraychak said. Sanchez was detained within an hour as a "possible person of interest" after police located him walking near the corner of Embarcadero and Townsend Street, a few block from Pier 14.
San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle grew up in Pleasanton, was shot and killed on Pier 14, just off Embarcadero in the city's South Beach neighborhood at about 6:30 p.m., Andraychak said.
He said that at about 6:30 p.m. Steinle was with her family about two-thirds of the way down the pier, "just out enjoying the day," when she was struck by gunfire.
Andraychak said her family, who live in Pleasanton, asked the police department to relay a message to the public, expressing their gratitude to all the Good Samaritans who tried to help their daughter following the shooting and to all those who provided police with information about the suspect.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account in her memory to support the charities important to her. At the account site,
http://www.gofundme.com/y2aneaw/ her brother Brad writes:
"I am Kate's big brother, Brad. And days ago the most loving, beautiful, and amazing person was taken from us...my best friend, my love, my sister. Kate had a special soul, a kind and giving heart, the most contagious laugh I have ever heard and smile I have ever seen. Kate loved to laugh, travel, spend time with friends, and most of all loved her family.
"Please remember every day that love is all that matters. Loving friends, loving life, and most of all loving your family.
"The day before Kate died she changed her Facebook cover photo with a saying that said "Whatever's good for your soul..........do that." Please always remember Kate and live your life by these words.
"We are truly grateful for all of the love and support that we have received and the idea that so many people want to keep Kate's legacy alive. We set up this page as a way to remember her and as a tribute to the amazing soul that she was. Any funds collected will be used to help the family continue to move forward and to support the causes close to Kate's heart. A portion of the funds will be used to support the charities listed below, but you can also make donations directly to them in Kate's honor."
The funds are Challenged Athlete's Foundation and PAWS: Performing Animal Welfare Society.
The safety of this busy tourist area was further brought into question last Thursday when two television news crews that were covering the homicide at the pier at about 6 a.m. were robbed of their video cameras at gunpoint by three suspects, one of them wearing a ski mask. The man also pistol-whipped a camera operator before fleeing in a suspect vehicle.
Andraychak said that while no arrests have been made in connection with the robbery of the camera crews, police have a photo of that suspect and have a suspect vehicle description along with license plate information.
Despite the homicide and the armed robberies of the camera crew, Andraychak stood on the pier today and said "This is a very safe place to be." However, he encouraged anyone who sees something or someone out of place to report it.
Anyone with further information, photos or videos, including footage from surveillance systems, is asked to contact San Francisco police at (415) 575-4444 and may remain anonymous.