Issues

Illegal Immigrant Accused of Stabbing Stranger in California Had Been Deported Seven Times

A special agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) searches a vehicle heading into Mexico
A special agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) searches a vehicle heading into Mexico / Getty Images

A man accused of stabbing someone at a California market in December is an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who was previously deported seven times.

Ricardo Velasquez-Romero, 39, was arrested last month after local police said he stabbed a 61-year-old man in the neck at Lola's Market in Santa Rosa on Dec. 21, Fox News reported Thursday.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Fox News that, according to Department of Homeland Security databases, Velasquez-Romero "has been repatriated to his native Mexico seven times since 2007."

James Schwab, a spokesman in San Francisco for ICE, said the agency has placed a detainer on Velasquez-Romero, indicating a desire to take custody of the suspect when local law enforcement release him from Sonoma County Jail.

"Records indicate Mr. Velasquez also has multiple prior criminal convictions, including those from felony drug and weapons charges," Schwab said, adding that ICE "continues to closely monitor the legal proceedings of Mr. Velasquez."

Velasquez-Romero's alleged stabbing appeared to have been "unprovoked and brutal." He has been charged with attempted murder.

This stabbing follows the widely covered case of Kate Steinle, who an illegal immigrant shot and killed in San Francisco in 2015, leading to a national debate on sanctuary cities. A California jury in late November acquitted Joes Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times before his arrest in the Steinle case, of murder and manslaughter charges. Zarate claimed that he found and picked up a gun wrapped in rags that accidentally fired, striking Steinle, who was 32 when she died.

Earlier this month, Zarate was sentenced to three years in prison for illegally possessing a firearm as a felon and was credited with time already served.

California recently became a "sanctuary state," preventing local law enforcement agencies from fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities.