Gascon says arrests imminent in tourist killing

Police Chief George Gascon said Wednesday he expects arrests to be made soon in connection with the highly publicized murder of a German tourist in a popular part of the city earlier this month.

“We believe very strongly that we have identified the suspects in this case,” Gascon told the Police Commission at its Wednesday meeting in the Tenderloin neighborhood, not far from where the killing occurred.

Gascon told the commission last week that he was dismayed by the lack of outcry from the public, and from city officials, over the shooting of 50-year-old Mechthild Schroer. He said that in another city, his phone “would be ringing off the hook” over such an incident.

While explaining at the time that he did not value one life over another, Gascon noted this shooting took place in a busy tourist area and that tourism was vital to The City’s economy.

Gascon said Wednesday he anticipated arrests would be made in the case soon.

Schroer was walking in the 400 block of Mason Street near her Union Square hotel on the night of Aug. 8, when she was apparently caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two groups of people outside a large private party for high school students.

An 18-year-old San Francisco man was arrested following the shooting, but prosecutors concluded there was not enough evidence to charge him with the murder.

Police later served a search warrant on a Fremont home in connection with the shooting.

Gascon also addressed another outbreak of violence that took place last week, when there were three homicides within 24 hours.

Three men were gunned down in the Tenderloin, Oceanview and Bernal Heights neighborhoods between Aug. 19 and Aug. 20.

Gascon told the commission that investigators believe one gang might be connected to all three shootings.
Police also made a presentation to the commission on a recent increase in street robberies throughout The City.

In the last three months, 662 street robberies have been reported in San Francisco, police said.
Gascon, noting the “uptick,” said he hopes to make a pitch to the public in the coming days on ways to avoid being victimized.

Police reported that most of the recent robberies involved people who were openly using iPhones, iPods or related items and who might not have been paying attention to their surroundings.

Most of the victims were also walking alone, police said.

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