Family of slain German tourist returns to San Francisco with heavy hearts 

The grieving husband of slain German tourist Mechthild Schröer said he wants her killer locked up.

“But the most I want, police cannot do,” said Stefan Schröer of Minden, Germany. “I want my wife back.”

Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown said Monday that the shooting case was delivered to the District Attorney about a month ago, and that somewhere between two and five suspects were involved.

“We’re just waiting for the DA to decide if charges will be filed,” said Godown.

The Schröers hoped to hear more about the investigation in a Wednesday meeting with District Attorney George Gascón, who was police chief at the time of the killing. Calls to the District Attorney’s Office Monday regarding whether charges would be filed soon were not returned.

While suspects were arrested shortly after the shooting, they were set free due to insufficient evidence. Schröer said he believed the lack of a murder weapon has stymied investigators.

The German consul told Schröer that police seized two guns after the killing, but neither weapon was determined to have been used to kill his wife.

On Monday, Schröer brought his two sons to the busy intersection where their mother, a beloved elementary school principal, was killed on Aug. 8.

Mechthild was shot during a chaotic gun battle between groups of teenagers at Mason and Geary streets. A stray bullet struck Mechthild as she and her husband searched for a restaurant just before nightfall. She died on the street in her husband’s arms. The couple had been vacationing in The City to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Mechthild’s birthday.

The Schröers returned to San Francisco on Sunday for a four-day visit. During the trip, they said they hoped to remember Mechthild, thank gracious locals and learn more about why no one has been held accountable for the murder.

Minutes before an interview with The San Francisco Examiner, Stefan and his sons, 22-year-old Tobias and 18-year-old Jonas, visited the spot in front of Max’s Restaurant where the murder occurred. The family fought back tears describing the moment.

“It’s difficult to explain in German, let alone English,” he said.

He said the killing took place in a blink of an eye. He heard what sounded like fireworks, and then his wife was dead.
The family said they were grateful to have had eight months to grieve before visiting the scene.

Schröer said he wonders if any of the teens are even aware of the life they took that night, given the chaotic exchange of gunfire.

The Schröers said the killing validated what they already believe about the U.S. — that gun laws are too lax.

The homicide made headlines worldwide. In the days following the incident, while his father was still in San Francisco, Tobias said he had to go to the local Minden police station for an escort to avoid the crowd of German media camping out in front of the family home.

The media attention has since calmed, the Schröers said. They said they hoped the media would steer clear of a memorial service being held for Mechthild on Wednesday at a local church.


City shares its heart with visiting family

The Schröers say they’ve been overwhelmed with kindness from San Franciscans and their neighbors in Minden, Germany.

At least 40 San Franciscans have written to express their condolences, Stefan Schröer said. More than 500 people attended a funeral in Germany for Mechthild, he said.

German neighbors, and also members of the elementary school where Mechthild was headmaster, have gone to lengths to remember the beloved educator, he added.

Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, which is located about a block from where Mechthild was killed, has provided the family a free stay in one of its largest rooms until Thursday, when their trip ends.

A German-speaking church in the area plans to hold a memorial service for Mechthild Wednesday.

The Schröers visited one of Mechthild’s relatives in St. Louis before coming to California. They also visited Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and the Sequoia National Forest. Son Tobias, a skateboarder, said he especially liked Venice Beach.

On Tuesday, the family plans to visit Mechthild’s favorite San Francisco attraction — the Golden Gate Bridge — during a walking tour through The City.

This will not be the last time the Schröers visit San Francisco, the city that has forever changed their lives, Stefan said.

“It’s a pretty city,” Tobias said.

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