San Francisco prosecutors charge suspect in woman's shooting death at Pier 14

The man accused of shooting 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle to death at a popular tourist spot in San Francisco was charged with murder on Monday, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said.

Francisco Sanchez, 45, was charged with murder stemming from the Wednesday shooting at Pier 14, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

In an interview with the Bay Area’s ABC7 News, Sanchez said he accidentally killed Steinle after taking sleeping pills and finding a gun, the station reported. According to the station, which played only a few short clips of the jailhouse interview, Sanchez said the gun fired three times when he picked it up.

Sanchez said that he didn’t realize anyone had been hit and that he kicked the weapon off the pier, the station reported. He was arrested about an hour after the shooting.

“I’m feeling sorry for everybody,” he said in the interview.

Sanchez has seven felony convictions -- four involve narcotics charges -- and has been deported five times, most recently in 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday.

In the jailhouse interview, Sanchez said he kept coming back to the U.S. in search of a job. 

ICE turned Sanchez over to San Francisco police in March on an outstanding drug warrant, agency spokeswoman Virginia Kice said last week. Immigration officials issued a detainer at that time, requesting to be notified before his release so arrangements could be made to take custody.

“The detainer was not honored,” Kice said in a statement.

San Francisco allows federal immigration holds only for people with violent records. Sanchez had no major violent crime convictions in recent years, according to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, so he was released after charges related to the drug warrant were dropped. 

San Francisco’s liberal policy toward people who are in the U.S. illegally was thrust into the national political debate after the fatal shooting. 

On Monday, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee said the city's sanctuary city policy "should not create a safe harbor for convicted, violent felons." 

"Our city’s policy helps immigrant and limited-English speaking communities where sometimes people fear and mistrust the criminal justice system," Lee said in statement

He add that he is "concerned" with the circumstances that led to Sanchez's release.

"All agencies involved, federal and local, need to conduct quick, thorough and objective reviews of their own departmental policies and the decisions they made in this case," Lee said.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has homed in on the Sanchez case, using it to bolster his argument for staunch immigration reform. 

Trump has immersed himself in controversy while campaigning for repeatedly saying some Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally are "rapists" and "killers."

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

7:32 p.m.: This story has been updated with information throughout. 

This story was originally published at 6 p.m. 

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