Sus­pect in killing faced de­por­ta­tion

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - PAUL ELIAS In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by El­liot Sp­a­gat of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

SAN FRANCISCO — A teenager ac­cused of fa­tally shoot­ing a pop­u­lar com­mu­nity vol­un­teer dur­ing a rob­bery in San Francisco last month was fac­ing de­por­ta­tion at the time, au­thor­i­ties said Fri­day.

The slay­ing oc­curred Aug. 15, four days after sher­iff’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors say Erick Gar­cia-Pineda, 18, stole the mur­der weapon from the per­sonal car of a San Francisco po­lice of­fi­cer.

Four days after the killing, Gar­cia-Pineda’s mon­i­tor­ing de­vice was re­moved from his an­kle, trig­ger­ing an un­suc­cess­ful search for him. An im­mi­gra­tion judge or­dered him to wear the bracelet as a con­di­tion of his re­lease from federal cus­tody in April.

Au­thor­i­ties said Gar­cia-Pineda had been de­tained by im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties in De­cem­ber and re­leased from cus­tody in April pend­ing de­por­ta­tion. In ad­di­tion to wear­ing the an­kle mon­i­tor, the judge re­quired him to rou­tinely check in with im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials.

He failed to show up for his Au­gust ap­point­ment, said James Sch­wab, a spokesman for Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

The im­mi­gra­tion agency said a con­trac­tor re­ceived a tam­per alert on Aug. 19 but au­thor­i­ties couldn’t find him. The agency told the man’s at­tor­ney that his client should re­port to them im­me­di­ately.

The sher­iff’s of­fice said Gar­cia-Pineda was wear­ing the an­kle bracelet when he was ar­rested Sept. 3 on mis­de­meanor bat­tery charges, and deputies re­moved it. The im­mi­gra­tion agency said the sher­iff’s of­fice ig­nored a re­quest to block his re­lease from jail that day.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors later con­nected Gar­cia-Pineda to the killing of Abel Esquivel, 23, dur­ing a rob­bery.

Im­mi­gra­tion agents also asked the sher­iff in May to de­tain a sec­ond man ar­rested in the area who is also charged in Esquivel’s mur­der, Je­sus Perez-Araujo, 24.

San Francisco po­lice ar­rested Perez-Araujo for pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of brass knuck­les. He was ul­ti­mately only charged with mis­de­meanor pos­ses­sion of brass knuck­les, court records showed.

Esquivel vol­un­teered at the Central Amer­i­can Re­source Cen­ter, which pro­vides le­gal help to low-in­come His­panic clients and other so­cial ser­vices.

“We were shocked to hear the weapon be­longed to a po­lice of­fi­cer,” said Lariza Du­gan Cuadra, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the cen­ter.

Martin Hal­lo­ran, pres­i­dent of the po­lice of­fi­cers’ union, said the of­fi­cer did not know his vehicle had been bro­ken into un­til after the shoot­ing.

“There were no vis­i­ble signs of the bur­glary,” Hal­lo­ran said. “The of­fi­cer, a highly dec­o­rated vet­eran, is dev­as­tated.”

The case has stirred mem­o­ries of the 2015 killing of a young woman on a San Francisco pier by a Mex­i­can na­tional who had been de­ported five times. A gun stolen from a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer was also used in that shoot­ing.

The shoot­ing also ig­nited a na­tional de­bate on sanc­tu­ary city poli­cies that bar po­lice from co­op­er­at­ing with federal im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties un­less they are seek­ing sus­pects con­victed of or charged in vi­o­lent crimes.

In the 2015 killing, Kate Steinle was shot as she walked on a pier crowded with tourists.

The San Francisco sher­iff had re­leased Jose Inez Gar­cia Zarate from jail sev­eral weeks be­fore the Steinle shoot­ing de­spite a de­tainer re­quest from the im­mi­gra­tion agency.

Zarate ac­knowl­edges shoot­ing the gun but said it fired ac­ci­den­tally. He has pleaded in­no­cent to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

Jury se­lec­tion for his trial be­gins Oct. 2 while the de­bate over sanc­tu­ary cities con­tin­ues.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion op­poses the pol­icy and has threat­ened to with­hold federal funds to those cities, prompt­ing law­suits. A federal judge on Fri­day barred the ad­min­is­tra­tion from with­hold­ing fund­ing un­til a law­suit in Chicago is re­solved.

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