Palo Alto police on Friday released a video they hope will generate new leads in the 2001 shooting death of a woman outside a popular nightspot.
Maria Hsiao, 21, of San Leandro, as well as three friends and her older sister, were leaving the now-shuttered Q Café, a pool and dance club on Alma Street a block south of busy University Avenue, on June 10, 2001, when someone shot her in the head at close range. She died a short time later on the operating table at Stanford Medical Center.
Although about 20 people were on the sidewalk at the time of the shooting, no one could identify the gunman, and the weapon was never found, police said.
Hsiao was a promising student at the San Francisco Academy of Art and had hoped to become a digital special-effects designer. Police and relatives say they had no reason to believe she was the killer’s intended target.
“That night, we just wanted to get together with a bunch of friends and to go out for dinner and to have a nice time,” Hsiao’s sister, Andrea Hsiao, says on the video through tears. “We didn’t expect this to happen.”
The video includes a reenactment of the response of police and firefighters to the shooting early that morning. At one point in the video, a message appears: “Someone knows the truth about what happened that night. Is it you?”
Palo Alto police Lt. Zach Perron, who was the second officer on scene the day of the shooting and helped perform CPR on the victim, said he hoped the passage of time would prompt witnesses to come forward.
“Even if this video doesn’t reach the actual person that has direct knowledge, this video may reach somebody who has second-hand or third-hand information about what happened,” said Perron, who attended Hsiao’s memorial and keeps a pink ribbon from the service in his police locker. “Somebody may have said something to somebody else, and we’re hoping that this video solicits that person or those people to come forward.”
The victim’s father, David Hsiao, is suffering from a terminal illness and is among those who want the case to be solved. “I wish they would find the people who did this,” he says on the video.
There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the slaying. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text or voice mail to (650) 383-8984.