"Suddenly I heard that boom boom, three times," accused shooter Francisco Sanchez said of the moment he picked up the gun

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 06, 2015 07:00 AM

The man accused of shooting a woman while she was walking with her family on San Francisco’s Pier 14 Wednesday night has admitted to the crime – though he insists it was an accident.

Francisco Sanchez, a repeat felon who had been deported from the United States to his native Mexico five times previously, told ABC7 News in a jailhouse interview that he found a gun wrapped in a T-shirt on the pier Wednesday. When he picked it up, he says, it accidentally went off and shot 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, hitting her in the torso and killing her.

“Suddenly I heard that boom boom, three times,” Sanchez, 45, said.

Sanchez said he had little memory of that fateful night, claiming that he’d taken sleeping pills he’d discovered in a dumpster before he ever stumbled across the gun. After the shooting, Sanchez kicked the gun into San Francisco Bay and walked off, allegedly unaware that he’d shot someone until police arrested him just hours later. He told officers he’d been shooting at sea lions.

Despite being deported nearly a half dozen times, Sanchez always returned to the U.S. “because I was looking for jobs in the restaurant or roofing, landscaping, or construction.” As a sanctuary city, San Francisco offers illegal immigrants like Sanchez a degree of protection.

Steinle’s parents told NBC News that they’re not concentrating on Sanchez’s legal status. “It would have been so much better if he were gone. Absolutely,” her mother Liz said. “But we’re not dwelling on that,” her father Jim added.

Sanchez went on to say that he hopes the courts give him the highest punishment possible, adding that he doesn’t want to live anymore.

“I’m feeling sorry for everybody,” Sanchez said.

Moments before she died, the victim turned to her father and pleaded, “Dad, help me, help me,” then collapsed. Kathryn’s father tried to revive her with CPR, but it was too late.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Kathryn’s memory by her brother Brad.

“Kate loved to laugh, travel, spend time with friends, and most of all loved her family,” he writes. “Please remember every day that love is all that matters. Loving friends, loving life, and most of all loving your family.”

Sanchez is charged with homicide for the shooting. He does not have an attorney and has not yet entered an official plea.

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