Seven suspects accused of fatally shooting a German tourist near San Francisco’s Union Square last year–one of whom remains at large–were indicted by a grand jury this week, District Attorney George Gascon announced today.
Mechthild Schroer, a 50-year-old woman from Minden, Germany, was fatally shot Aug. 8, 2010, in the 400 block of Mason Street after getting caught in the crossfire of a shootout between groups of people outside a private party, police said.
Schroer had been visiting the U.S. with her husband Stefan, and the couple had been staying at a nearby hotel.
Two teens, a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old woman, were also struck by gunfire but survived. None of the three victims was the intended target of the shooting, according to police.
Six suspects were arrested May 4 in connection with the shooting, and a seventh suspect is still being sought by police.
Assistant District Attorneys Eric Fleming and Wade Chow pursued the indictment through the grand jury process “to prevent the potential fracturing of the case at the preliminary hearing stage,” according to the district attorney’s office.
The prosecution used this tactic because of the complexity not only of trying six defendants but also of questioning the more than 60 witnesses.
“We wanted to prevent the potential for and the possibility of having to bring in numerous witnesses numerous times for a couple of preliminary hearings,” district attorney’s spokesman Omid Talai said today. “That isn’t practical.”
The grand jury indictment allowed the prosecution to bring in all the witnesses–at least one of whom Talai said is a teenager distraught by witnessing the crime–once.
Gascon made the announcement today at a news conference alongside representatives from the German Consulate, including Consul Antje Susan Metz.
“The Consulate General very much appreciates that the case is going forward,” Metz said.
Phillip Stewart, 19, Marcus Blueford, 19, Delvon Scott, 20, Willie Eason, 19, and Raheem Jackson, 17 — who is being tried as an adult–were charged with murder, while Gethsamine Pita, 18, was charged with being an accessory to murder, prosecutors said.
The six suspects in custody pleaded not guilty July 19
and were arraigned today.
Stewart, Blueford, Scott, Eason, and Jackson were each charged with one count of murder and several counts of attempted murder, as well as one felony count each of participation in a criminal street gang, assault with a semi-automatic weapon and possession of a firearm.
Pita was charged with one count of being an accessory to murder, one count of participating in a criminal street gang and one count of possession of a firearm.