SAN FRANCISCO — Across town from Pier 14 where Kate Steinle was shot and killed, her parents and brother stood on the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning and blamed not only the suspected shooter, but local and federal officials they believe could have — and should have — prevented her death.
“We’re here not only for Kate, we’re here for every citizen of this country who comes to San Francisco,” said Kate’s father, Jim Steinle, “If you think this cant happen to you, think again.”
In front of a crowd of media covering the case that has become a political lightning rod over illegal immigration, Brad Steinle and his parents, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, said they had filed a claim against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, whose agent lost a gun that was used in the killing.
“What happened on Pier 14 was not only foreseeable, it was preventable,” said lawyer Frank Pitrie.
Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, a Mexican immigrant with a long record of felonies and deportations, had been recently released from San Francisco County jail when police say he picked up a gun July 1 that he says he found on Pier 14 and fired on the crowded pier.
Kate Steinle, 32, who had recently moved in with her boyfriend in San Francisco, was enjoying the day with her father and a friend, strolling down the pier. She stopped to take a selfie of the group, then turned and was shot in the back. She died in her father’s arms.
“She said, ‘Help me, help me.’ That’s my bedtime story every night,” Jim Steinle recounted.
Jim Steinle said shortly after Kate’s death, the family received calls of condolences from the mayor, sheriff and other public officials, but the silence from San Francisco’s leaders since then “has been deafening.”
The Steinles are blaming Mirkarimi because they say he failed to notify ICE when San Francisco authorities released Lopez-Sanchez from jail after dropping a 20-year-old marijuana charge against him. San Francisco prides itself on being a “sanctuary city,” which limits turning over illegal immigrations for deportation.
“This is for accountability for public officials that we have voted for who are not doing their job,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “This is for humanity, this is for the future, even though ours is gone.”
The case ignited a firestorm, propelled by presidential candidate Donald Trump, over illegal immigration.
Lopez-Sanchez remains in jail on murder charges, but last week a ballistics expert testified in court that the suspect accidentally fired the gun and that it was pointed at the ground when it went off, then ricocheted before hitting Steinle nearly 100 feet away.
“No amount of money will ever bring Kate back,” her brother, Brad Steinle, said Tuesday. “But I hope that by us standing here today, we will start the process of change so that people will be safe when they come to this city.”