The gun used to fatally shoot a woman on the San Francisco Embarcadero belonged to a federal agent, sources confirmed Tuesday. Kathryn Steinle, 32, was shot once in the back Wednesday while strolling on the tourist-friendly waterfront with her father. She died at a hospital a short time later.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 52, pleaded not guilty earlier Tuesday to a murder charge and was being held on $5 million bail. In an interview with KGO-TV, which first reported the gun’s connection to the federal agent, Lopez-Sanchez said he had found the weapon wrapped in a T-shirt on the ground near a bench, and that it had accidentally fired when he touched it.
But he also said he had taken strong sleeping pills and his memory was murky. No additional details about the gun were available Tuesday. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.
The case against Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican national who has been deported multiple times, has spurred outrage nationwide among critics of immigration policy.
San Francisco is among a number of counties and a handful of states that do not honor many requests by immigration authorities to hold inmates beyond their release date in order to hand them over for deportation. In this case, a request by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they be notified of his release date was disregarded.
He was released to the streets of San Francisco in April when 20-year-old charges against him were dismissed and was apparently homeless until the shooting.