The weapon used in the murder of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinlebelonged to an agent with the Bureau of Land Management, whose vehicle was burglarized while the agent was doing business in San Francisco.
BLM spokesperson Dana Wilson said the service weapon was issued to a ranger and stolen from the agent's car on June 27. Originally, sources had said the gun was a personal weapon. The gun was in a "locked vehicle," Wilson said, and the theft was immediately reported to San Francisco police. The agent was not disciplined, Wilson told NBC Bay Area.
But neither the bureau nor police would say more, and no one has offered how Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a felon and five-time deportee, obtained the weapon on July 1, which was described as a .40-caliber handgun, either Sig Sauer or Glock. Sanchez said in a KGO-TV interview on Sunday that he found it wrapped in a towel or T-shirt under a bench at the pier the day Steinle was shot and killed.
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The federal agency falls under the Department of Interior which oversees about 250 acres of federal public land.
Sanchez entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday and his bail was set at $5 million. His public defender, Matt Gonzalez, said it was "very likely" the shooting was accidental.
The shooting, which police have said was random, has sparked a national debate on immigration, as Sanchez had the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ageny had put a "detainer" on his status, first reported by NBC Bay Area. However, the San Francisco County jail did not alert ICE that Sanchez had been released on April 15, because the city and county give refuge to undocumented immigrants.
Steinle's parents have purposely remained out of the political firestorm, and instead, are trying to focus on honoring the memory of their daughter.