As reported by the Washington Post
Two days before going on a violent rampage, Gustavo Garcia was released from jail despite a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The first shots rang out just after 1 p.m. on Sunday, on a road lined with orange trees in Exeter, Calif. A farmworker standing on a ladder heard a car slam on its brakes, then felt himself falling in a hail of bullets. As he hit the ground, he realized that he had been shot in the chest.
The random drive-by shooting at the orchard marked the beginning of what local officials would later describe as one man’s “reign of terror” in agricultural Tulare County. Within 24 hours, Gustavo Garcia would kill one, injure at least six others, rob thousands of dollars from a convenience store and lead a wrong-way chase down a busy highway in a stolen truck, according to police, who believe he may also have been responsible for a second homicide that is still under investigation.
Now, the area’s top law enforcement official is placing the blame on California’s controversial “sanctuary state” law, known as Senate Bill 54, or the California Values Act. Garcia had previously been deported and was arrested just days before his violent rampage, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told reporters Wednesday. But because of the law, he said, his officers were unable to coordinate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“That tool has been removed from our hands,” he said. “And because of that, our county was shot up by a violent criminal.”
Before his alleged crime spree, Garcia, 36, had been removed from the U.S. twice, first in 2004 and then again 2014, ICE officials said in a statement to local media outlets on Wednesday. Before his second deportation, he had spent 27 months in federal prison for illegally reentering the country. A statement from the agency called the weekend’s violence “an unfortunate and extremely tragic example of how public safety is impacted with laws or policies limiting local law enforcement agencies ability to cooperate with ICE.”
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