CLEVELAND - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents told Ohio sheriff's deputies weeks ago not to detain a man who is in the U.S. illegally and is now suspected of killing a woman and wounding another during a crime spree, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Lake County sheriff's deputies questioned 35-year-old Juan Emmanuel Razo on July 7 after finding him alone in a car in Painesville, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.
Deputies responded to a report of suspicious activity, and Chief Deputy Frank Leonbruno told Cleveland.com Razo was "in an area he had no permission to be on."
Unsure of Razo's status, the deputies say they contacted Border Protection officials and were told he is from Mexico and in the U.S. illegally but they didn't want him detained.
Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap said at a news conference Tuesday that deputies released Razo because he hadn't committed a crime at that point. Razo has lived in the country for five years and has no local criminal history, Lake County law enforcement officials told Cleveland.com.
A Border Protection spokesman did not return telephone messages seeking comment. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement said in an email that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was closely monitoring the case. The email identified Razo as Juan Emmanuel Razo-Ramirez.
Razo was arrested Monday after a shootout with police. A detective said during a court hearing Tuesday that Razo has confessed. A judge set his bond at $10 million.
Razo has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a 40-year-old woman Monday afternoon as she walked with her two children along a bike path in Concord Township. She was shot in the arm. Just over an hour later, a man told park rangers he'd found his wife, 60-year-old Margaret Kostelnik, shot to death in their home near the bike path.
The Lake County coroner said Kostelnik was shot multiple times.
The manhunt for Razo began late Monday morning after a 14-year-old girl told police he had tried to rape her in another section of the park. The Lake County prosecutor said evidence in the slaying of Kostelnik and the attempted rape will be presented to a grand jury.
The case comes after the apparently random murder of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle on a San Francisco pier and intense national debate over immigration. Steinle was killed July 1 allegedly by an immigrant in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations. The man, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained.
A public defender entered a not guilty plea for Razo on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted murder, but still faces possible murder and other charges, reports Cleveland.com.