Family of woman killed in San Francisco.: We are focusing on healing, not politics

The apparently random shooting of Kate Steinle by immigrant Francisco Sanchez has fueled debate over US immigration policy. But her family is focused on a 'message of love,' her brother says.

Noah Berger/Reuters
Flowers and a candle form a makeshift memorial for shooting victim Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco on Monday. Ms. Steinle was fatally shot as she walked with her father along the popular Embarcadero pier on July 1 in what San Francisco police described as an apparent random attack.

The parents of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman killed at a San Francisco pier Wednesday, say they are not focusing on the politics of the case, but rather on healing and on honoring Ms. Steinle’s memory.

The man who shot her, Francisco Sanchez, has seven felony convictions and has been deported five times to his native Mexico, fueling debate over immigration policy. Jim Steinle, Kate’s father, however, said Friday, “We’re not dwelling on that.”

Her mother, Liz Sullivan, also said, "Everybody is trying to put the political spin on it. But it happened, and there is no taking it back."

Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend Wednesday evening at the city’s bustling Pier 14 when Mr. Sanchez shot her in a seemingly random act of violence. He was detained an hour later.

Sanchez’s most recent run-in with authorities was in March, when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned him in to San Francisco officials for an outstanding drug warrant. He was released less than a month later without prosecution, since officials said the marijuana possession case was over a decade old.

Though ICE issued a detainer for Sanchez requesting that he only be released into the hands of immigration authorities, San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance says undocumented migrants cannot be handed over to immigration officials without a warrant for their arrest. Freya Horne, counsel for the local sheriff’s department, said no active arrest warrant for Sanchez was found.

San Francisco resident Manuel Gabriel said he stopped by the pier Wednesday after seeing reports of the incident on the news. He said Sanchez’s immigration status should have no bearing on the crime; rather, his mental health is the primary issue at stake.

"US citizens also kill people," Mr. Gabriel said. "The issue shouldn't be whether or not he has documents. The question is why authorities would release someone who is not well mentally."​

Steinle’s brother Brad set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations for the Steinle family and for charities representing causes his sister cared about.

He spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday, echoing the sentiments of his parents.

“At a time like this … it would be easy for us to hate and be angry, but Kate wouldn’t want that so we’re trying to spread a message of love,” he said. “That’s what Kate would want.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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