The alleged gang member accused of killing Los Angeles high school football star Jamiel Shaw is in the country illegally and had been released from jail without anyone questioning his citizenship the day before Shaw's shooting, according to a report by MyFOXLA.com.
Meanwhile, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Saturday afternoon was scheduled to join with Shaw's family to dedicate a memorial honoring the 17-year-old at the spot where he was killed.
Police say Pedro Espinoza, the 19-year-old suspect arrested in Shaw's death, has been in a street gang since he was 12. Until this month, he had been in jail on charges of exhibiting a firearm and obstructing an officer, MyFOXLA.com reports.
Immigration officials told the TV station that Espinoza is an illegal immigrant, but no red flags were raised when he was released from jail March 1.
"The system is not 100 percent," Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the station.
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Police say Shaw was walking home from a mall on March 2 when Hispanic gang members pulled up in a car and asked him, "Where are you from?" — code for what gang did he belong to, police said. Espinoza then allegedly shot Shaw, who was not a gang member.
Espinoza was arrested March 7 and charged with murder. The charge has been labeled gang-related, which could make him eligible for the death penalty. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.
Police still are looking for a second man thought to be Espinoza's accomplice.
Police said Shaw was a standout running back and a good student at Los Angeles High School. He also was the Southern League's most valuable player last season and had been recruited by universities including Stanford.
Shaw's mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, had been serving in Iraq but returned home when her son was killed. She is slated to redeploy to Iraq to finish her second tour of duty despite dozens of letters sent to her Army supervisors asking for an exemption.