Earlier this week, Gustavo Garcia, an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, celebrated his release from prison by going on a shooting spree. He killed two people and injured six others before dying as the result of crash at the end of a harrowing car chase in a stolen vehicle.
Garcia had been deported twice — first in 2004 and then 2014. Before his second deportation, he had spent 27 months in federal prison for illegally reentering the country. Previously, he had been convicted of armed robbery.
Last week, he was arrested after a caller reported that he was behaving erratically. He tested positive for a controlled substance and spent 10 hours in custody. Then, he was released because the offense only carried a misdemeanor charge.
While Garcia was in jail, ICE officials learned of his arrest and issued an immigration hold. Absent California’s sanctuary state law, federal authorities would have been notified of Garcia’s release and been present to pick up him.
Unfortunately, California is now a sanctuary state. This means that local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from honoring ICE’s detainer requests unless the agency obtains an arrest warrant signed by a federal judge, and, indeed, from communicating with ICE in cases like these. As Mike Boudreaux, the sheriff of Tulare County where Garcia briefly was held, explained:
Before SB 54 [the sanctuary city law], Gustavo Garcia would have been turned over to ICE officials. That’s how we’ve always done it, day in and day out. After SB 54, we no longer have the power to do that.
Thus, Garcia was free to indulge in his murderous rampage. It consisted of:
The drive-by shooting of a farm worker in an orchard,
robbing a gas station where he fired shots at the ceiling,
shooting a woman in a parked car near a Motel 6,
firing a volley of bullets into another gas station,
killing a man standing outside yet another gas station,
firing shots while on his ex-girlfriend’s property (with her kids present),
shooting at a police patrol car,
stealing a vehicle at gunpoint,
smashing into several cars while driving at 100 mph to escape the police.
Four people were hospitalized as a result of the car chase. One was injured critically. (If only Garcia had spent more time in “evidence-based” rehabilitation programs during his time in prison).
Garcia’s murder victims would be alive today if California had not enacted its sanctuary state law. Indeed, just seven months ago, Sheriff Boudreaux warned the local board of supervisors about the risk to public safety posed by sanctuary legislation.
Maybe now, his warning will be taken seriously. But we’re talking about California, so it’s unlikely to be taken seriously enough.