San Francisco prosecutors on Tuesday refused to file murder charges against a man arrested in connection with Sunday’s fatal shooting of a German tourist as questions surfaced about the party the suspect had attended.
Police say Phillip Stewart, 18, is responsible for a barrage of bullets that careened off trash cans, light poles and a nearby restaurant, hitting three people. But the District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges Tuesday because there was no positive identification of the shooter, according to a spokesman for the office.
“The case remains under active investigation,” read a statement from Assistant District Attorney Seth Steward. “Evidence continues to be collected, including ballistic evidence, gun shot residue results and video evidence.”
The suspect was one of five males ranging in age from 15 to 18 who were detained after a gun battle broke out in the heart of The City’s tourism center. At least one of the suspects had just left an end-of-summer party exclusively for teens at a rented hall, according to city officials.
Police have said the owner of the building at 414 Mason St. was not at fault because the event did not require a permit, but a member of the Entertainment Commission disputed that Tuesday.
Longtime Commissioner Terrance Alan said large events where minors are attending require a special permit from The City. Neither the promoter, LaBriette Collins, nor the venue’s CEO, Kurtis Matthews, applied for a permit with the Entertainment Commission.
“Had the commission known, this tragedy could have been avoided,” Alan said.
Mechthild Schröer, a 50-year-old elementary school principal visiting The City from Menden, Germany, was struck by the gunfire just steps from the King George Hotel, where she and her husband were staying.
The two were in San Francisco to celebrate their anniversary and were returning from a stroll when the shots were fired, officials said.
Bullets also struck a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old woman, who were both treated and released, police said.
Prosecutors are required to file charges against a suspect within 48 hours of their arrest or they must be released. Neither police nor prosecutors could confirm whether Stewart will be released.
Staff Writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.
Hero cab driver just doing his ‘civic duty’
The humble hero cabbie that helped police capture suspects minutes after the fatal shooting of a German tourist Sunday said the praise he’s been receiving is unwarranted.
“I woke up [Monday] to a voice mail from [Mayor] Gavin Newsom,” said the driver, who wishes to remain anonymous until the killers are behind bars. “I don’t need my name and a picture splashed all over TV because I did my civic duty.”
The driver, a longtime San Franciscan, said anyone who cares about their city should call police when they see a crime.
The cabbie said he had just dropped off a customer when a cab dispatcher informed him of police activity at Mason and Geary streets.
The cabbie said the car in front of him was swerving when it suddenly pulled over and a male jumped in. The car then ran a red light and picked up three additional teens, he said.
“I started speed-dialing SFPD,” said the driver, who followed the car while giving updates t??o police dispatch.
“Five [patrol] cars came screaming around the corner, and another five from the other corners,” he said. — Mike Aldax