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Suspect in Colts player's death charged with immigration offenses

A Guatemalan immigrant who allegedly killed NFL player Edwin Jackson and his ride-share driver in a crash in Indiana...

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 2:14 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 2:14 PM

A Guatemalan immigrant who allegedly killed NFL player Edwin Jackson and his ride-share driver in a crash in Indiana has been charged in federal court with illegal entry after previous deportations.

Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, an undocumented immigrant, was driving the car that fatally hit the Indiana Colts linebacker and driver Jeffrey Monroe early Sunday on Interstate 70, authorities said.

Man who fatally hit Colts player had been deported twice, authorities say

He had a prior conviction for driving without a license

Orrego-Savala had a prior conviction for driving under the influence, and had been deported twice, according to officials.

"The defendant in this case allegedly re-entered the country illegally for the second time before he put the public safety of Indianapolis at risk and took the lives of two innocent men early Sunday morning," said Josh J. Minkler, a US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

The suspect will remain in custody as Indiana authorities investigate the crash, Minkler said in a statement Tuesday.

Jackson started eight games in 2016 for the Colts, but did not play this past season due to an injury.

"Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization," the team said. "We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hardworking mentality."

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he will pay for both men's funerals.

The crash

After the crash Sunday, Orrego-Savala was accused of driving without a license and on suspicion of intoxicated driving, and taken to the Marion County Jail. His initial hearing will be held Wednesday, and he'll be appointed an attorney before then.

Monroe had stopped his 2018 Lincoln on the side of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis because Jackson had become ill, according to state police.

Both men were standing outside the car when a black Ford F-150 pickup truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them.

One of the men was thrown into the center lane. A state trooper spotted the wreckage and as he slowed to stop for the crash, he struck the body in the center lane, officials said. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

During Orrego-Savala's arrest, he gave the Indiana State Police an alias -- Alex Cabrera Gonsales -- and attempted to flee on foot, authorities said. When Orrego-Savala appeared before a judge on Tuesday, he questioned why he was in court, and claimed he wasn't driving the car in the fatal crash, according to the court clerk.

A man listed as Alex Cabrera Gonsales was arrested last year in Whitestown, Indiana, after a driving infraction, according to a report by Whitestown Police officials, who confirmed both identities are the same person.

He was pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign, and authorities found out he did not have a driver's license, according to the police report. He was arrested, and taken to jail for further processing.

Scott Rolston of Whitestown Police said the department generally would not communicate with ICE for a typical traffic stop.

Cabrera Gonsales pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while never receiving a license, which is a misdemeanor, according to documents provided by CNN affiliate WISH-TV. He was sentenced to two days in the Boone County Jail and released after one day served.

Deported twice

Orrego-Savala was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in October 2006, and deported to Guatemala in January 2007, according to a federal criminal complaint.

He was prohibited from returning to the United States for 10 years, according to federal officials.

Two years after he was deported, he returned to the United States illegally, and was deported again two months later in May 2009, with an order not to come back for 20 years, according to the complaint.

County authorities gave the suspect's name as Orrego-Savala, but the US attorney's office identified him as Orrego-Zavala.

Trump tweets on crash

In a tweet Tuesday, President Donald Trump said it was "disgraceful that a person illegally in our country" killed Jackson. He called on Democrats to "get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!"

As part of his call for tighter immigration policy, Trump has repeatedly highlighted crimes in which the suspect is an undocumented immigrant. On the campaign trail, he spoke often about the 2015 killing of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly by a man deported five times previously. The man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, was found not guilty of murder in the case.

Indiana State Police said they are working with the prosecutor's office to file criminal charges against Orrego-Savala.

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