Who Killed Maria Hsiao? Art Student Celebrating Her 21st Birthday Shot Outside Nightclub

“Even someone with second or third-hand information about what happened may hold the missing piece of the puzzle,” Palo Alto police say.

Maria Hsiao, pictured here smiling, was fatally shot outside a Palo Alto, California night club just after midnight on June 10, 2001.

Over two decades have passed since Maria Hsiao, an art student in California, was fatally shot outside a nightclub on a Saturday night, but law enforcement officials say someone knows something and could help bring the killer to justice and provide answers to the victim’s loved ones.

Photo by: Palo Alto Police Department

Palo Alto Police Department

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Over two decades have passed since an art student in California was fatally shot outside a nightclub on a Saturday night, but law enforcement officials say someone knows something and could help bring the killer to justice and provide answers to the victim’s loved ones.

Just after midnight on June 10, 2001, police in Palo Alto received a 911 call about a shooting near Q Cafe. At the chaotic scene, officers found Maria Ann Hsiao still alive on the sidewalk suffering a gunshot wound to her head. “We did everything we could that night to try and save her life,” Palo Alto Capt. Zach Perron recalled. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

Maria, who was studying digital special effects design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, died from her injuries on the operating table.

Perron said there was a group of between 10 and 20 people outside the club, including Maria, her older sister and three friends, bouncers and other patrons, when the gunshot rang out and the victim was struck.

“That night we just wanted to get together with a bunch of friends and go out for dinner to celebrate her birthday and have a nice time, and we didn’t expect for this to happen,” said Maria’s older sister, Andrea Hsiao.

Nobody came forward to identify a suspect, and police were unable to find the murder weapon.

“It’s highly unlikely that no one saw anything that night,” Andrea said of the deadly shooting.

Perron agrees. “Somebody has some knowledge that they haven’t shared with us yet,” he said.

Officials released a video about Hsiao’s murder and hope that a viewer who sees it could come forward to help right a wrong. “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,” Palo Alto police said.

The victim’s father, David Hsiao, was suffering a fatal, debilitating illness when he said his final wish was for police to find whoever killed his daughter.

There is a $100,000 reward in the case. Anyone with information about who shot Maria Hsiao is urged to submit tips by emailing paloalto@tipnow.org or by sending a text or leaving a voicemail at (650) 383-8984.

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