Before the Steinles, there were the Bolognas. On a cool summer day in 2008, the San Francisco family was torn apart by a senseless act that thrust the city and its immigration policies into the national spotlight.
A little more than seven years before Kate Steinle was fatally shot on Pier 14, Danielle Bologna lost her husband and two of her sons in a mistaken-identity gang hit by an MS-13 member who had been shielded from deportation twice by city juvenile justice officials relying on San Francisco’s sanctuary laws.
The cases ended differently, with the MS-13 killer sent to prison for life and the homeless undocumented immigrant accused of shooting Steinle acquitted Nov. 30 of murder and manslaughter charges after saying he had fired accidentally.
But both families had to deal with an aftermath in which the tragedies stopped being solely their own, in which their pain became a talking point in the tempestuous debate over U.S. immigration, in which they had a loud voice but in a conversation they couldn’t control.
“I felt like my family was just nothing,” Bologna, 57, told the San Francisco Chronicle in a recent interview. “No one even really cared, though they liked to blame each other for this or that. And I was just left trying to make the best for my two surviving children.