The national network news reported a young women shot and killed July 1 on a San Francisco pier. She was reportedly out for a stroll with her dad and a family friend.
The shooter, police said, was a Mexican citizen, deported from this country five times. From news reports, the crimes that resulted in his previous deportations were possession of marijuana and being here without permission. He was free to walk the streets last week because, though he had been charged with possession of $20 worth of marijuana, he had been released to await further court action. San Francisco is a so-called “sanctuary city” with laws prohibiting turning illegal aliens over to federal immigration authorities upon their release from prison resulting from non-violent charges.
Another Mexican citizen illegally in the U.S. got high on marijuana and ran his vehicle into a mother and her two children in Arizona recently. News reports said he had been deported six times. The kids wee banged up, but no one died. The man was charged with felony hit-and-run.
Yet another illegal Mexican immigrant, deported three times and each time returned to Texas, finally took a hammer to his wife and killed her. Published reports said Laredo, Texas, police had encountered the man in several instances of spousal violence, but had not reported the matter to state police or Border Patrol.
A few years ago, in my home county, a man shot his wife dead, then showered and changed his clothes, put his shotgun on the seat beside him in his pickup, and drove to the police station. He said his wife would not “quit running her mouth” and he “just wanted a little respect.”
Another man shot and killed his adult son because he was tired of listening to his offspring argue with him. When the shooter’s wife attempted to call police, he shot and killed her.
The evening of July 4, a youngster was killed in Chicago by a bullet police said they believed was intended for the youngster’s father. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel cried on national television over the death of the child. The city’s police chief said his department confiscates guns at a rate of about one an hour from people who have, in violation of city ordinance, neither passed a background check nor obtained city permission to possess a firearm.
The first three cases were perpetrated by illegal Mexican immigrants. The fourth and fifth cases involved seemingly regular white guys, U.S. citizens born and raised, living and killing in south-central Pennsylvania.
The shooting in Chicago apparently was gang related.
I become frustrated when we narrow our sights too tightly on factors which have little or nothing to do with the situation being reported. The man who shot the girl in San Francisco certainly was in the U.S. illegally, but that is not why he shot 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. The tone of his “confession,” initially to a local news reporter, seemed laced with remorse.
“Through a series of tangled words, (Francisco) Sanchez appeared to say that he found the gun wrapped in a shirt on a bench after he had taken sleeping pills that he found in a trash bin,” said SFGATE (the online outlet for the San Francisco Chronicle) writer Evan Sernoffsky.
Sanchez reportedly took the gun to the pier intending to shoot sea lions, and when he heard he had shot the women, threw the gun into the bay. Clearly, he must be, and likely will be, held accountable for killing Steinle.
But he did not, seemingly, do it because he was an illegal Mexican immigrant.
The words “felony” and “illegal aliens” are powerful descriptors, but they distract us from solving actual problems and causes of the harm we humans seem capable, deliberately or accidentally, of inflicting on each other.