By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The gun used in the slaying of a California artist while he was painting a mural in the Bay Area city of Oakland had been stolen from a federal immigration agent just weeks before, authorities said on Wednesday.
The Oakland Police Department said the firearm used in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old artist Antonio Ramos belonged to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The department referred further questions to the agency.
James Schwab, an ICE spokesman, confirmed that a duty firearm was stolen from the vehicle of one of its officers on Sept. 13 in San Francisco and that the theft was reported to local authorities. He provided no further information.
Alameda County prosecutors have charged Marquise Holloway, 20, with murdering the muralist.
According to prosecutors, Holloway tried to rob Ramos, and then shot him, after approaching the painter while he worked on the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project under Interstate 580 on the morning of Sept. 29.
The painting was organized by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, a West Oakland-based community organization that seeks to curb violence by engaging area youth in the arts.
Police have said Holloway admitted to the shooting but told them it was an accident and denied attempting to rob Ramos, according to charging documents provided by the district attorney's office.
Holloway is also charged in five other robberies in September and October, court documents showed. A spokesman for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office said Holloway has not yet entered a plea and is set to be in court again next Monday.
Asked on Wednesday about the theft of the ICE agent's firearm, San Francisco police Sergeant Michael Andraychak confirmed the incident, but said someone other than Holloway was arrested in connection with it.
Ramos' killing is at least the second deadly shooting in the Bay Area carried out with a stolen federal firearm in recent months.
In July, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management confirmed that the gun used to kill a woman walking in a popular tourist area of San Francisco had been stolen from the car of a federal law enforcement ranger.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)