Police have identified a man who was deported multiple times and had an extensive criminal history as a suspect in the stabbings of multiple people at a church in the San Francisco Bay Area, numerous sources reported.
Fernando Jesus Lopez, 32 faces two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, and was on probation in San Joaquin County for a felony domestic violence charge when he stabbed 5 people Sunday night at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, killing two, the Associated Press reported. (RELATED: 2 Dead, 3 Wounded After Church Stabbing, One Person In Custody, Police Say)
Police close off both East 10th and San Fernando Street. Police on scene confirm it as a mass stabbing at Grace Baptist Church, across the street from #SJSU. @SpartanDaily https://t.co/i3UgpW4kil pic.twitter.com/bir1qVgLE5
— Jesus Tellitud (@JesusTellitud) November 23, 2020
He was also wanted in Santa Clara County on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, months after his arrest in June, when he was released by a judge despite protests from the county’s district attorney over concerns with Lopez’s violent record, and despite his violation of his five-year probation.
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said that Lopez had been deported from the U.S. three times, and had not been turned over to immigration officials because of the county and state’s sanctuary laws, according to CBS San Francisco.
Garcia said the deaths were preventable, and that the county’s sanctuary laws were an obstacle that hindered cooperation with immigration authorities.
“On his latest misdemeanor domestic violence offense in Santa Clara County, an immigration detainer was sent. Although notification would have been allowed under SB54, the California Values Act, it was not honored and he was subsequently released,” Garcia said, according to CBS.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo pointed to system failures that led up to the fatal stabbings, and called for the policies that ignore federal hold requests for felons to be reconsidered. He pointed to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer request the county received and ignored because of Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policy.
“This suspect had a long record of domestic violence and drug use, and he should have been in jail, in federal custody, in drug treatment, or in jail in his own country but not on the streets in our community,” he said, according to the AP. “These failed policies are all within our control to change and we need to change them.”
ICE officials also identified Lopez in a statement released Wednesday as a “criminal alien” who has repeatedly violated immigration laws and has a “significant criminal history spanning back nearly 15 years,” according to CBS.
Lopez was reportedly a frequent guest at the church, which offered services for homeless people, according to the AP.
Following the murder of Bambi Larson, a 59-year-old San Jose mother who was killed inside her home in 2019, Santa Clara County supervisors gave the county 60 days to develop modification to its sanctuary city police. The suspect, Carlos Arevalo-Carranza, was deported by ICE in 2013 but returned to the U.S., and subsequent ICE detainer requests were ignored due to the county’s sanctuary policy.
— Ryder Christ (@RyderChristNews) March 14, 2019
The county voted to uphold their policy of not holding immigration suspects for ICE.