An 18-year old illegal alien wanted by federal authorities for deportation allegedly stole a gun from a San Francisco police officer, then shot and killed a popular immigrant activist last month.
AP reports that Erick Garcia-Pineda, 18, had been detained in December and released from custody in April pending deportation, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Garcia-Pineda was required by an immigration judge to wear an ankle monitor and check in regularly with ICE.
Garcia-Pineda failed to show up for his August appointment, ICE spokesman James Schwab said.
San Francisco police say Garcia-Pineda used a gun stolen from an officer’s car to kill 23-year-old Abel Enrique Esquivel Jr, on Aug. 15. He was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges Sept. 3 before investigators say they connected him to the slaying.
SF Gate reports that a second suspect in the murder, Jesus Perez-Araujo, might never have been on the street if he’d been deported:
Perez-Araujo was arrested in May on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, was charged in court with a single misdemeanor count of possession of brass knuckles and released shortly thereafter, officials said. The charge does not fit the criteria under which the San Francisco jail would notify ICE.
“Despite the detainer, local authorities made the decision to release him back into the community without providing any notification to ICE, resulting in another arrest that may have been averted had the city chosen to cooperate with ICE,” Schwab said.
The series of events that led to Esquivel’s death began Aug. 12, when Garcia-Pineda and Perez-Araujo stole a silver .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and ammunition from a private car that was parked in San Francisco and belonged to city police Officer Marvin Cabuntala, according to a court complaint filed Thursday. The police internal affairs division is probing the theft and whether the officer failed to properly safeguard the weapon.
Garcia-Pineda, Perez-Araujo and Daniel Cruz, 18, then went on a robbery spree in the early-morning hours of Aug. 15, authorities said, ending with Garcia-Pineda shooting Esquivel, a city native and supermarket worker, at 26th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. Data from the ankle monitor is now key evidence in the case.
The story is already drawing comparisons to the tragic shooting of Kate Steinle, 32, also shot in San Francisco with a gun stolen from a law enforcement officer by an illegal alien protected from deportation by San Francisco’s ‘Sanctuary City’ policy.
The victim identified as 23-year-old Abel Ezquivel—like Kate Steinle spent much his time volunteering—at the Central American Resource Center, which provides legal help to low-income Latino clients and other social services, the AP reports.
The local Press Democrat reports:
In Garcia-Pineda’s case, police say he and two other men were carrying out a string of robberies in the city’s Mission District when they encountered Ezquivel walking down the street. Ezquivel was shot and killed.
Garcia-Pineda and the two other men “were responsible for several robberies” between Aug. 13 and Aug. 15, San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.
This latest ‘Sanctuary Murder’ comes amid a national debate over DACA and sanctuary city policies that President Trump has promised to end.
Garcia-Pineda would not have been automatically disqualified from DACA for the misdemeanor battery charge, had he applied.
At the same time, California is on the verge of becoming the first “Sanctuary State” after the legislature passed a bill (SB54) Friday that spreads ‘San Francisco-Style Sanctuary’ policy statewide, which would forbid law enforcement across the state from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in all cases except the most violent and serious crimes.
If SB54 were law, Garcia-Pineda would have been shielded from deportation in every jurisdiction in California, not just San Francisco or Los Angeles—in spite of skipping out on immigration authorities.
“What makes this so tragic is that it might have been prevented if San Francisco did not have such an egregious sanctuary policy,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies [told SF Gate], which advocates for more restrictive enforcement. “How many deaths is it going to take before people realize this is a mistake?”
The bill is on the Governor’s desk and will most likely be signed into law, despite this latest ‘Sanctuary Murder’, which was reported too late to have any impact on the months-long debate.