Police release video on unsolved 2001 homicide

Palo Alto police seek answers in fatal shooting; $100K reward offered

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:

Anonymous tips about that night can be emailed to or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through a free mobile app, downloadable at or

Related articles:

Nine years after death, family longs for justice

Police baffled by shooting at downtown café

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


12 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 7, 2015 at 12:28 am

Please share the video, especially with anyone who may have lived here back in 2001, but has moved out of the area. Stanford students who graduated, people who moved away after the failures or the recession. Maybe they know someone who was at that club that evening. Praying for an answer for this family.

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2015 at 11:38 am

I watched the video and was really sorry to hear about this tragedy, and I'm sorry for Maria's family, what a lovely young lady.

I hope someone will step up and hope PAPD is able to get leads.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Do the police still believe the shooter was less than 10 feet from the victim? Any clues about what type of gun? More clues can help people come forward with information.

Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:13 am

I remember a news article around the same time that some racist anti-Asian literature was discovered at the Palo Alto Library (I think from memory the one on Hamilton Ave.) and that is was suspected by HS students. I always wondered if it was some racist HS students with access to weapons who committed this crime. It seems to lack any traditional motive ala stalker/jealousy etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Cal
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Time to reinterview the group of men at the Miyake restaurant who suggested the ladies visit Q Cafe.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,983 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,177 views

Premarital and Couples: "You're Not Listening to Me!" may mean "I don't feel heard."
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,034 views

All those things our city does – and doesn’t -- do
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 988 views

Migraines and motherhood
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 586 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.