KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV/AP) –Federal investigators are trying to determine how a Mexican national suspected of five shooting deaths in Kansas and Missouri acquired an assault-style rifle found on him when he was caught.
John Ham, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office in Kansas City, said Wednesday that federal law barred Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino from legally owning a gun because he is in the country illegally.
There are also questions about why Serrano-Vitorino was still in the country, in spite of brushes with the law in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
The accused killer was sentenced to two years in Los Angeles County Jail in 2002 for making a terrorist threat. He was deported to Mexico in 2004, but slipped back across the border.
He was finger printed five months ago in Overland Park, KS, and was in the Wyandotte County jail in June for a domestic violence hold.
“He’s killed four persons in my community,” said Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman.
Gorman acknowledges the systematic failure to detain and deport Serrano-Vitorino.
“It is certainly unfortunate that we now have four member of our community dead because everything didn’t happen the way it was supposed to,” Gorman said.
What’s left is a troubling picture of poor coordination amongst law enforcement agencies.
Serrano-Vitorino was convicted of driving under the influence in Coffey County, KS, in November 2014, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he was never fingerprinted.
While the government organization has the power to detail and deport undocumented immigrants like Serrano-Vitorino, they said they were never notified of this by Coffey County courts.
In June, Kansas City, KS, police arrested Serrano-Vitorino at his home for battery and he was processed in the Wyandotte County Jail. His name was entered into Immigration Alien Query or IAQ. ICE has four hours to respond, but they didn’t within that time frame.
Per standard protocol, Serrano-Vitorino was released six hours later.
“We can’t go on this way and something needs to be corrected to that the system works properly,” Gorman said Wednesday.
Then, in August, he was pulled over by Overland Park police. A headlight was out and he didn’t have a driver’s license, so the case went to municipal court in September.
Serrano-Vitorino was fingerprinted in court. That went to ICE. They issued a detainer and sent it to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, but he wasn’t in custody there.
ICE issued the following statement:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) previously removed Pablo Serrano-Vitorino from the U.S. in April 2004, based on a final order of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. Serrano-Vitorino illegally re-entered the United States on an unknown date. ICE placed a detainer on Serrano-Vitorino March 9, 2016, following his arrest on multiple murder charges. ICE will continue to work with local entities and take steps to once again remove him from the country once the criminal case is completed.”
“On Sept. 14, 2015, ICE received an electronic notification that Serrano-Vitorino was fingerprinted at the Overland Park Municipal Court after receiving a fine for driving without a license. Although the notification prompted ICE to issue a detainer to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Serrano-Vitorino was at court for a municipal fine and was never remanded to the sheriff’s office custody. Therefore, neither ICE nor the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office could take action on that detainer.”
Court documents clearly stated Serrano-Vitorino’s correct home address and his phone number.
Serrano-Vitorino is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of four men late Monday at his neighbor’s house in Kansas City, Kansas. He’s also suspected in the Tuesday morning shooting death of a man in Montgomery County, MO, where he was arrested early Wednesday and remains jailed.
Authorities have not discussed a possible motive for the attacks.
Serrano-Vitorino’s next court date in Montgomery County is set for April 28. When he returns to Kansas will be up to authorities in Montgomery County.