U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement that Junior “Gustavo” Garcia-Ruiz, the suspect in a string of shootings and crimes across Tulare County on Monday, was illegally in the country and “this deadly rampage could have been prevented if ICE had been notified of his release” by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.
ICE said its agency lodged an immigration detainer for Garcia-Ruiz on Friday after learning of his arrest by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
“However, that detainer was not honored,” ICE wrote, “and he was released from custody later that day without any notification to ICE.”
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux held a news conference at noon Wednesday to respond to the ICE statement.
ICE said they removed Garcia-Ruiz from the country twice, in 2004 and 2014, and that he served 27 months in federal prison for reentering the country before his second removal.
“This is 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,” the statement continued.
Garcia-Ruiz died in a car crash following a police chase in Porterville after robbing a store, killing a stranger, and shooting others in random acts of violence, according to authorities.
Law enforcement provided the following additional information about Garcia-Ruiz:
He first illegally entered the U.S. in 1992, when he was a minor, then adjusted his status to a lawful permanent resident in 2002, earning his eligibility through a family member.
ICE lodged a detainer on him after he was convicted for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place in 2003, and was sentenced to two years in prison. An immigration judge first ordered his removal in 2004.
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