Seven people were arrested Wednesday in connection with the fatal shooting of a German tourist caught in the crossfire between rival gangs last summer in San Francisco, police said.
Four men were charged with murder, while another man and two male juveniles were charged with accessory to murder in the slaying of 50-year-old Mechthild Schroer of Minden, Germany, on Aug. 8, 2010.
An eighth suspect remained at large. All of the suspects are affiliated with gangs in San Francisco, police said.
The arrests came nearly nine months after Schroer was killed due to a culmination of evidence. Five of the arrests were made in San Francisco; the other two suspects were arrested in Oakland and Fremont across the Bay Bridge, said homicide Lt. Lea Militello.
"A lot of pieces of the puzzle came together," she said.
At a news conference, Militello said the four men charged with murder are Phillip Stewart, Marcos Blueford and Willie Eason, all 19, and Delvon Scott, 20. Gethsamine Pita, 18, and the two teenage juveniles received the lesser accessory charge, she said.
The victim recently had been named rector of an elementary school in Germany. She was in the United States celebrating her birthday and wedding anniversary, was checking out a restaurant menu from the sidewalk with her husband, Stefan, in the popular Union Square area when she was fatally shot in the head by a stray bullet.
Police said Schroer was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time when the rival gangs exchanged gunfire outside a private end-of-summer teen dance party at a comedy club.
The couple was about a block from their hotel and not too far from the iconic cable car lines.
They had planned to leave San Francisco two days later.
Two others also shot suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Stewart and four others were quickly arrested, but were released due to insufficient evidence.
Current District Attorney and then-Police Chief George Gascon lamented on the apparent lack of community concern over the shooting at the time.
On Wednesday, he did not back down.
"The lack of reaction ... I found it extremely disturbing," Gascon said. "I felt that our community was becoming so tolerant of violence that even cases of extreme violence weren't making people angry."
Last week, Schroer's husband returned to San Francisco with their two sons and said they hoped an arrest would be made soon.
Militello said she called Stefan Schroer on Wednesday morning with news about the arrests.
"He was extremely emotional and very, very grateful," Militello said.
The suspects are scheduled for arraignment on Thursday.
- Current District Attorney
- elementary school