Seven reputed gang members — including two juveniles — were arrested Wednesday in connection with the murder of a German tourist while she was on vacation in San Francisco in August.
Another man is still at large, according to the San Francisco Police Department.
The murder of Mechthild Schröer — and the months it took to solve the case — shocked and outraged The City. The 50-year-old headmaster of an elementary school in Minden, Germany, was fatally struck by a stray bullet during a gun battle between groups of teenagers outside a San Francisco comedy club at Mason and Geary streets.
She died on the sidewalk in her husband’s arms. The couple had been on a three-week U.S. vacation to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Mechthild’s birthday. At the time of the shooting, they were searching for a restaurant.
The killing happened just before nightfall amid dozens of witnesses. While arrests were made shortly after the shooting, insufficient evidence prevented charges from being filed at the time.
Of the seven in custody now, four are being charged with murder, including Phillip Stewart, 19; Marcos Blueford, 19; Delvon Scott, 20; and Willie Eason, 19. Gethsamine Pita, 18, is being charged with accessory to murder. Two juveniles are also being charged in the case.
Lt. Lea Militello of the police homicide division said the arrests are a “culmination of evidence” collected over many months.
Some of those booked into custody Wednesday were arrested just after the shooting in August, Militello said. All the suspects in the case have gang affiliations, police said.
Police declined to release further details citing an ongoing investigation.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming said work has been conducted on the case since August.
“Major pieces of the puzzle needed to be put together,” he said.
The arrests come nearly a week after Mechthild Schröer’s widower, Stefan, and her two sons came to visit The City.
In an interview with The San Francisco Examiner during the family’s visit, the grieving husband said he wanted her killer locked up.
Militello said she had spoken with the victim’s family. She said Stefan was “very emotional and very grateful.”
During their visit, Stefan also met with District Attorney George Gascón.
Gascón told the family he planned to go after suspects only when he felt he had a strong case, according to Peter Rothen, German Consul General in San Francisco.
The arrests “just shows what Stefan Schröer was told last week by the DA, apparently that the investigation was indeed very advanced,” Rothen said.
Merchants cheered news of the arrests Wednesday. Businesses around Union Square had welcomed the Schröer family with open arms since the shooting. During their four-day visit last week, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, which is located about a block from where Mechthild was killed, provided the family a free stay in one of its largest rooms.
“It’s always nice to see justice done,” said Linda Mjellem, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District. “The incident was so unfortunate, so inexplicable. “We assured [the Schröers] that whenever he makes a return trip, we are ready to help with accommodations.”