Their hearts were broken in San Francisco 

It was nearly eight months ago that one of The City’s most shameful crimes took place near Union Square. And this week, one of the most surprising and goodhearted sequels that could ever be imagined for that awful incident is happening.

Stefan Schröer of Minden, Germany, has returned to San Francisco with his two sons, Tobias, 22, and Jonas, 18. He wanted to show them the favorite American city of their late mother — the place where Mechthild Schröer, 50, was killed by a stray bullet while looking for a restaurant with her husband on Aug. 8.

It was just before nightfall at Mason and Geary streets. A gun battle suddenly broke out between groups of teenagers. And Mechthild Schröer, an innocent visitor to what was supposed to be one of the safest areas in The City, was shot and killed for no reason.

Her murder remains unsolved to this day. Shortly after the killing, arrests were made. But because the outbreak of gunfire had been so chaotic, the suspects were set free due to insufficient evidence — particularly the lack of a murder weapon.

On Monday, interim police Chief Jeff Godown made a surprise announcement that the shooting case had been delivered to the District Attorney’s Office 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,” Godown said.

But so far, District Attorney George Gascón, who was police chief at the time of the killing, has only issued a statement that nothing is being said until the still-ongoing investigation is completed. Today, the Schröers are to have a private meeting with Gascón, followed later with a news conference at the German Consulate.

What has been genuinely heartening about the Schröers’ emotional return to The City is the warmth of the welcome they are receiving from so many San Franciscans. Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, near Union Square, gave the family a free stay in one of its largest rooms for their entire four-day visit. The owner of nearby Lori’s Diner and Sears Fine Foods, Man J. Kim, offered them complementary meals.

Approximately 40 San Franciscans wrote the family to express condolences. Retired Lufthansa airlines employee Gerhard Woelke is taking the Schröers on a walking tour of Mechthild’s favorite city sights, particularly the Golden Gate Bridge. And San Francisco’s last German-speaking church is holding a private memorial service for Mechthild today.

At the time of the shooting, then-police Chief Gascón expressed shock that San Franciscans weren’t more outraged about the random downtown violence. Now that he is district attorney, we hope he will charge those responsible for this senseless murder.

Mechthild Schröer’s bereaved family will never have her back, but they deserve to see her killer brought to justice. And before they leave for home Thursday, they deserve more closure from our police and district attorney. Let us hope it is delivered.

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