Motive still unclear in Embarcadero shooting death of 32-year-old woman

SFPD divers searched the waters south of Pier 14 and came up with an object they placed into a plastic box Thursday, July 2, 2015. The search followed an early evening fatal shooting at Pier 14 on Wednesday. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)
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Kathryn Steinle began Wednesday evening having dinner with her father and a family friend at Perry’s along The Embarcadero. Perhaps it was the view from their table outside that led them across the street to a pedestrian pier that reaches into the Bay.

But their stroll down Pier 14 ended in death when a man on the pier shot and killed Steinle in front of her father in what police are calling a “random act.”

At around 6 p.m., as Steinle was walking down the pier in the bright evening light, she suddenly told her father she didn’t feel well and fell to the ground, according to police who say witnesses heard a single gunshot.

The bullet struck her upper body, said police, but it appears she wasn’t aware she’d been shot. As soon as she went to the ground, bystanders rushed to her aid, some even helping perform CPR.

As the shooter fled down the pier, possibly tossing the gun into the Bay, witnesses snapped photos of him, which they gave to police who arrived on the scene soon afterward. Within an hour, using those same photos, police identified and detained the alleged shooter only blocks from the crime scene.

“It appeared to be a random shooting event,” said police spokesman Michael Andraychak Thursday afternoon in front of Pier 14. “It just appears to have been a shooting [without] motive.”

Liz Sullivan, Steinle’s mother got a call from her husband soon after the shooting. “He said, ‘Kate’s been hit. Kate’s been hit’” recalled Sullivan, whose daughter grew up with one brother in Pleasanton. “She was a very strong young woman…We are just so thankful for our close knit family”

Steinle, a seven year city resident, worked as a sales representative for medical device company Medtronics and attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she studied communications, said her mother. A representative from Medtronics said she’d worked for the company since 2013 and that they are saddened by the tragedy. “Our thoughts and condolences are with Kate and her friends and family,” the representative said.

At this point, police are still pulling together details in their ongoing investigation. “No words were exchanged,” between the victim and the shooter, said Andraychack, who added that nothing was even taken from the victim.

Thus far, police have referred to the suspect arrested in the case as Francisco Sanchez. It’s believed the suspect, who’s around 45 years old, was on probation out of Texas, but investigators acknowledged his identity has not yet been fully confirmed.

Sanchez was detained Wednesday night near Townsend and Embarcadero streets after police on patrol recognized him from photos the department had distributed. He’s been booked into the County Jail on suspicion of homicide and has spoken with detectives about the shooting.

Soon after the shooting, Steinle was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of her gunshot wound, but did not survive. “Her heart stopped a couple of times on the way to the hospital but they revived her” said Sullivan, who noted that physicians at the hospital said they see their share of shooting victims, but usually they are involved in crime or gangs not a young girl minding her own business.

The sidewalk leading to Pier 14 was full much of the Thursday with news crews and police still investigating the scene. In an unrelated crime, two news crews were robbed early Thursday at the location.

A police marine unit was anchored off the pier for several hours Thursday as a dive team searched evidence related to the shooting death.

Thursday morning, a waitress at Perry’s recognized Steinle’s father Jim Steinle on television, said Claudia Chaax, a manager at Perry’s. Prior to the shooting, the waitress had served him and his daughter at an outside table in the restaurant, said Chaax. Steinle was visiting with her father, who had come into The City from Pleasanton, said police.

Stuart Kass, 44, was visiting The City from San Diego on business and staying in the Hotel Griffon across the street from the pier where the homicide happened.

When he left the hotel, which is in the same building as Perry’s, to have dinner with his wife, the street was calm. An hour later, at around 7:15 p.m., police and news crews had swarmed the sidewalk across the street from his hotel to cover the homicide that had occurred while he was away.

The next morning, another gaggle of camera crews were outside his hotel to report on the killing only to become victims of a robbery themselves. Kass, who usually stays at the Chinatown Hilton, was told by a friend he should stay at Hotel Griffon for its views. “Sure enough, it was a view all right,” he said.

 

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Kathryn Steinle (32) Courtesy: Liz Sullivan




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