SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A transient arrested in the murder of Bambi Larson was in the United States illegally and had a lengthy history of arrests in the South Bay and Los Angeles, authorities said Tuesday.
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza "stalked" Larson's neighborhood before allegedly killing her with a knife and blunt force trauma.
"Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza stalked this San Jose neighborhood and his victim," said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia. "He is a self-admitted gang member."
Garcia then detailed his lengthy criminal record.
"His criminal history convictions consist of in Feb. 2013 he was detained by the Department of Homeland Security at the border near McAllen, Texas, and deported."
"In 2015, he was arrested for drug paraphernalia. In 2015 he was convicted of burglary in San Jose. In 2016, battery of an officer, resisting arrest and entering a property. In 2016, he was arrested for battery in Los Angeles. In 2017, he was arrested and convicted of false imprisonment in San Jose. On April of 2018, arrested for paraphernalia again. In May, he was arrested for possession of methamphetamine."
"In August of 2018, he was arrested for prowling. On October 2018, he was arrested for false identification and paraphernalia once again."
Garcia said Carranza was currently on probation for the possession of methamphetamine, paraphernalia, false imprisonment and burglary.
"Unfortunately, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) placed detainers on this individual six separate times. Two in the Los Angeles area and four in the County of Santa Clara," he said.
ICE detainers are requests to hold people suspected of being in the country illegally for longer than their jail terms until they can be questioned by federal immigration authorities.
Garcia was critical of the sanctuary city, county and state policies that prevented Carranza from being turned over to immigration officials.
"Those undocumented citizens who are not violent or serious criminals should not fear the police," he said. "But when we have violent or serious offenders that are preying on our community we must have the ability to protect our residents. We will go to the ends of the earth to find a predator like this. We put the case together, put them in jail and then it is up to the rest of the system to determine what happens next."
"The City of San Jose and our police department has no control over how the county interacts with federal immigration enforcement in the deportation of violent or serious felons like Carlos Arevalo Carranza."
Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, said the crime should have never happened.
"Not in a million years. We have to change the laws that protect monsters like this suspect," said Kelly.
"If you have dreamers that are just trying to survive and make a better life for themselves, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about changing the laws that protect criminals that will violently attack women."
ICE Acting Field Office Director Erik Bonnar said his agency has had nearly a dozen detainer requests for Arevalo-Carranza that have gone unanswered. They filed a 10th detainer on his on Tuesday after his arrest.
"ICE preliminary information suggests this is at least the tenth detainer ICE has lodged with local California law enforcement agencies on Arevalo-Carranza since 2016," Bonnar said in a statement. "All nine known previously lodged detainers have been ignored and have allowed Arevalo-Carranza back onto our streets to re-offend."
"How many more people have to be killed or injured before California lawmakers will open discussions to revise the state policy prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE to apprehend dangerous criminal aliens?" the statement continued. "It's unfortunate that our communities face dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens. These sanctuary policies have unintended, but very real, and often tragic consequences to public safety."
Mayor Sam Liccardo took aim at the Santa Clara County sanctuary policy in a statement following the police press conference:
"It is long overdue for the County to reconsider its current policy of ignoring ICE hold requests for predatory felons, which undermines the safety of the very immigrant communities we collectively seek to protect," said Liccardo. "The County's policy has nothing to do with the City's decades-long policy of declining to have police engage in federal immigration enforcement, which was implemented to protect public safety. In contrast, the current County policy of ignoring detainer requests for individuals arrested for strike offenses and convicted of multiple felonies undermines public safety, and violates common sense. I hope we can restart this conversation to make progress where we all agree: we can both keep our City safe from violent criminals and protect our law-abiding immigrant community."
County officials also tell KPIX that detainers have been found to be unconstitutional in other states because they violate the fourth amendment protecting individuals from unreasonable search and seizure.
The 24-year-old Carranza was arrested Monday night and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail.
Larson was a medical testing company manager and lived alone here with her dog and cat. She was found dead in the bedroom of her home in the 900 block of Knollfield Way in south San Jose on February 89th with several stab wounds across her body, police said.
She attended San Jose State University and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and was a manager at medical testing company Roche Sequencing Solutions in San Jose.
Neighbor George Bisceglia told KPIX he is still reeling from the news of his friend's death and Monday's arrest.
"Shocking isn't even close to the word. There's no words to describe what happened, said Bisceglia. "I mean, people die naturally and you feel bad, but this is a whole other level."
The coroner's office said Larson died from "sharp force injuries to the neck and torso."
Knowing a murderer was on the loose after Larson's death left the South San Jose neighborhood on edge.
"My daughter just doesn't want to step out of the house alone, you know?" said neighbor Nitin Miranda.
A memorial has been growing outside of the home where Larson was murdered almost two weeks ago. The circumstances of the crime and whether the suspect knew the victim are still a mystery.
"Until we know the entire story, I don't know," said Miranda.
"She was a sweet, beautiful girl. She was a good friend. Always smiling," remembered Bisceglia.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call San Jose police Detective Mike Drago at (408) 277-5283. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call (408) 947-7867.
KPIX reporter Len Ramirez contributed to this story.
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