Police release video on unsolved 2001 homicide


by Jocelyn Dong / Palo Alto Weekly

Maria Ann Hsiao was fatally shot on June 10, 2001, in downtown Palo Alto. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible. Photo courtesy Palo Alto Police Department.

Maria Ann Hsiao’s death has haunted Lt. Zach Perron for more than 13 years, and now the Palo Alto Police Department has released a video about the night she died in hopes of generating tips that will lead to her killer.

Just after midnight on June 10, 2001, Hsiao, a 21-year-old film student, was fatally shot in the head outside the Q Cafe in downtown Palo Alto on June. She had been out for her birthday with her sister and several friends. While they stood outside the Alma Street nightclub saying their goodbyes, a single shot rang out. Hsiao collapsed.

Perron was the second officer to arrive on the scene and immediately started CPR, he recounted in the 10-minute video. People were screaming, and the police were uncertain about what had happened and whether the shooter was still in the area. No gun was ever found.

Perron continued to try to keep Hsiao alive in the ambulance as it took her to Stanford Hospital. But his efforts were in vain; Hsiao died on the operating table.

A $100,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Hsiao’s death. Her family, meanwhile, seeks justice, and soon: Her father has a terminal illness and desires to know what happened to his daughter before he dies.

In the video, Perron said that he still has vivid memories of that night.

“There are a certain number of calls you’re always going to remember every detail to them,” he said. “I feel like I have a very close bond to Maria. I was there when she passed away, and I wasn’t able to do anything to save her. And that’s left a hole in my heart, to be quite honest.

“No one’s forgotten this case, and no one’s forgotten Maria,” Perron said. “That’s why we want to do everything we can to try and find out the truth about what happened.”

Because of the size of the crowd outside of the club that night, police believe one or more persons saw something – and they’re still keeping what they know a secret. Police initially said they believed the shooter was between 5 and 10 feet away from Hsiao.

“Someone out there knows the truth about what happened that night,” the police press release states. “Even someone with second- or third-hand information about what happened may hold the missing piece of the puzzle that helps us to crack this case, solve a mystery, and bring justice for Maria, her family and her friends.”

Police are asking the public to watch the YouTube video and share it on their social networks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faP6-0NBNYM

Anonymous tips about that night can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through a free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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