The parents of Kathryn Steinle, the woman shot and killed in San Francisco, allegedly by a Mexican national who had been deported multiple times, said overwhelming public support has helped them cope with their daughter's death.
Steinle, 32, was walking along San Francisco’s waterfront with her father on July 1 when police say she was shot by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a man with seven felony convictions who has been deported five times.
It also triggered a wave of support from strangers across the nation and abroad for Jim Steinle and Liz Sullivan of Pleasanton, Calif., they told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday night.
“Without all the love from around the world for Kate, this would’ve been a tougher road to hoe,” Steinle said.
Kathryn Steinle was spiritual and soulful, her mother said.
“I think that’s what’s helping to give us the strength that we’ve conjured up in this terrible, terrible situation,” Sullivan said. “I feel her strength still with me.”
Kathryn Steinle’s parents said the public’s response to her killing, and the person accused of doing it, have given them a sense of purpose.
“The memorial – I was just taken away with the amount of people,” Sullivan said. “You can’t prepare for anything like this, and it was astonishing. It is astonishing. We’re hoping to carry this forward, we’re hoping some good can come of this.”
The couple also expressed support for a proposed law that would require prison time for those who return to the United States illegally after being deported.
They told O’Reilly their daughter’s death has energized them to prevent future crimes by those in the United States without documentation.
“We feel the federal, state and cities -- their laws are here to protect us, but we feel that this particular set of circumstances and the people involved, the different agencies let us down,” Steinle said on "The O’Reilly Factor."
Both expressed support for O’Reilly’s proposed “Kate’s Law,” which would impose a five-year federal prison term on those who return to the U.S. illegally after being deported. O’Reilly is collecting signatures for the measure.
“You want to make it so much better for everybody in the United States that this -- as you say, would never happen again,” Sullivan said.
The interview shed new details about Kathryn Steinle's final moments. Jim Steinle said he heard a pop, then his daughter -- who had recently moved to San Francisco for a job -- fell to the ground.
“What did she say before she went down?” O’Reilly asked Jim Steinle.
“Help me, Dad,” he said. Later, he recalled, “We had some kind souls come over, you know, gave her mouth to mouth and did all they could.”
Lopez-Sanchez, 52, pleaded not guilty last week to one count of murder with firearm enhancements. His attorneys contend the shooting was accidental.
In an interview with KGO-TV, Lopez-Sanchez said he had found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt on the ground near a bench, and it had accidentally discharged when he touched it. He also said he had taken powerful sleeping pills.
Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management confirmed last week that the gun used in the shooting had been reported stolen from the vehicle of a federal law enforcement officer four days before Kathryn Steinle’s killing.