Laken Riley’s father breaks silence on brutal murder: ‘I wish it had been me.’

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The father of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student who was allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant while jogging last month, spoke out for the first time since his daughter’s death in an emotional interview.

“I wish I had been there to protect her,” Jason Riley told the NBC show. TODAYin a interview which aired on Monday. “I wish it had been me.”

A suspected illegal immigrant was arrested and charged last month for fatally attacking Riley while he was running on the University of Georgia campus. The suspect, José Ibarra, was detained and released on parole near El Paso, Texas, in September 2022 after arriving at the southern border from Venezuela.

Ibarra was arrested in New York City last September for acting to injure a minor, but was released before Immigration and Customs Enforcement could issue a detainer. Weeks later, he received a citation for shoplifting in Athens, Georgia. He allegedly disfigured Riley’s skull and body in carrying out the murder. collection documents fixed.

the death of riley brought greater scrutiny to President Joe Biden’s lax immigration policies and record flows of migrants across the southern border. In the state of the union address Earlier this month, President Biden addressed Riley’s murder in response to boos from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.).

Progressives were furious. Biden for calling Ibarra “illegal” during his speech. Biden finally bowed to pressure from progressives and he apologized for exactly describing Ibarra.

“I’d rather she wasn’t as political as they say; she started a storm in our country,” Jason Riley said, “and she’s incited a lot of people.”

Jason Riley said the political attention resulted in “people on both sides who have lashed out at our families,” referring to him and Riley’s mother. The couple has been divorced since Riley was a child. However, he remained close to his daughter and they spoke regularly. They last spoke two weeks before Riley was killed.

“It was really surreal. I just didn’t want to believe it; It’s still hard to believe,” Riley said, as she became emotional. “I wake up every day thinking I can call her and I can’t.”

House lawmakers approved the Laken Riley Act of March 7 that requires immigration authorities to detain illegal immigrants accused of theft or theft. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Collins (R., Ga.), whose district covers the area where Riley was killed. It passed with bipartisan support.

Former President Donald Trump met Riley’s mother and stepfather before a rally in Georgia earlier this month criticized Biden’s handling of the border. Jason Riley, also a Trump supporter, wishes his daughter’s death was less political.

“I think it’s being used politically to get those votes,” Jason Riley said of his daughter’s death. “It makes me angry. I feel like, you know, they’re just using my daughter’s name for that. And she was so much better than that, and she should be raised as the person she is. She was an angel.”

Jason Riley believes his daughter’s death has contributed to necessary conversations about the border crisis and victims of sex trafficking.

“Laken has been a rallying cry for secure borders and the illegal immigration policies of this current administration, but there are many women we don’t get to hear about,” she said.

Ibarra remains in prison as he faces several charges of murder and assault.

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