5 detained after German tourist fatally shot in SF

August 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A German tourist visiting San Francisco to celebrate a big birthday with her husband, was shot and killed in the crossfire of a gun battle in the downtown theater district.

Mechthild Schröer, an elementary school principal, and her husband Stephan checked into the King George Hotel several days ago. They were celebrating her 50th birthday in San Francisco.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Sunday night, Mechthild was walking down Mason Street near Geary Boulevard just a block away from her hotel. That's when she was hit in the head and died at the scene.

"All of a sudden I heard some yelling and I heard some shots. I looked over and there were people over here with guns," tourist Andrew Bocz said.

Bocz was standing outside a gallery just a couple of yards away from the shooting.

"People were screaming over here. Someone had gotten shot and there was another man over there who got shot and he got glanced in the neck and he had a napkin up on it and he was bleeding," he said.

That man and a woman were also shot. Police say they were treated at a hospital and released.

Police would not say how many rounds were fired but there were bullet holes on the walls and windows of restaurants and shops near the shooting.

At the Katanaya Restaurant a half block away on Geary, people rushed into the place, looking for refuge.

"All the customers waiting outside ran into the restaurant and people outside walking went inside of the restaurant. People sat down on the floor and ground and they were really scared," restaurant worker Mei Machii said.

Police have taken five people into custody -- three adults and two juveniles and investigators also recovered a weapon. By Monday evening one of the adults, 18-year-old Phillip Stewart, had been booked on murder charges.

All victims were unintended victims. They just happened to get caught in a crossfire of the two groups.

Police believe the shooting started because of an altercation between two groups of young people. They're investigating to see if they had been to a teenage dance party held at the Native Sons building which is on the same block where Schröer was shot.

Steven Suen owns Biscuits And Blues across the street from the shooting and he believes the suspects were waiting in front of his establishment.

"They were all young teenagers and they are... for some reason they are hovering outside our door," Suen said.

There was security at the party and ironically the promoter says she puts on these events so teens can have a safe place to socialize.

The property manager says hundreds of young people attended the event. The building manager said the Comedy College, which leases the floor, rented out their space to event planners.

The property manager also told ABC7 that Comedy College should have notified the building that they were renting out the space for the party, but they did not.

Police also said there are plenty of witnesses, including a cab driver, who can identify all of the shooters.

The husband of the murder victim left the King George Hotel around 7 p.m. and flew back to their home in Minden, Germany.

"Deep in his heart he's crushed. After being with someone for all these years and they came to celebrate, I believe it was their 25th silver anniversary," concierge Jake Castro said.

Castro says he helped Stephan pack.

"Some of the things he didn't want to take because it was just too hard for him," Castro said.

The German couple had been traveling in the U.S. since mid-July and they had plans to go home this Saturday.

As news reverberates across the ocean, German Deputy Consul General Eberhard Brockmann says as tragic as it is, this will likely have no effect on San Francisco's tourism industry. He says the lady was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.


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