Police say at least five people fired weapons in a weekend shooting in Sacramento, Calif., that killed six people and injured a dozen others and prompted lawmakers to crack down to the scourge of gun violence in the United States.
Officials said Wednesday that while the motive was still unknown, investigators believe “gang violence is at the center of this tragedy” and that “gangs and gang violence are inseparable from the events that led to these shootings.” .
Police have made three arrests since the violence which unfolded around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Smiley Martin, who was also injured in the shooting, has been charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun, while officials have charged his brother Dandrae Martin with assault and illegal possession of firearms.
Daviyonne Dawson is facing charges of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. The 31-year-old was reportedly seen carrying a weapon in the area, but police say he has not been charged in the shooting and officials do not believe the weapon was used in the incident . Dawson has posted $500,000 bond and is no longer in jail.
Law enforcement sources told the LA Times on Wednesday that the incident resembled a shootout between “rivals” and that bystanders were caught in the crossfire of more than 100 shots. The shooting took place as bars in the neighborhoods closed and customers took to the streets. Police confirmed they were investigating whether the incident could be linked to a street fight which broke out before gunshots rang out.
No one has been charged with homicide in connection with the shooting as detectives continue a complex investigation that includes hundreds of physical evidence, video footage, photos and dozens of witnesses.
Authorities believe the Martins stole the weapons. Investigators are trying to determine if a stolen handgun, which was converted to a weapon capable of firing automatically, found at the crime scene was linked to the shooting.
Massive gun violence has rocked the region in recent weeks, raising questions about what can be done to stop the proliferation of illegal firearms in California. Less than six weeks ago, a man committed suicide in a Sacramento suburb after killing his three daughters, ages nine, 10 and 13, with a ghost gun, a gun without a serial number that is typically purchased online and assembled at home.
California already has some of the toughest gun rules in the country, but has yet to find a way to deter those who want to circumvent the laws with the increasingly common stolen or homemade ghost guns. .
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, has proposed legislation that would allow citizens to sue anyone who distributes illegal assault weapons, parts that can be used to make weapons, weapons without serial numbers or .50 caliber rifles. Under the measure, which is modeled after a controversial Texas bill targeting abortions, those suing would receive at least $10,000 in civil damages for each gun, plus attorneys’ fees.
“California leads the country in passing tough gun laws…and we’re still seeing this unprecedented level of gun violence,” said Robert Hertzberg, the Democratic senator from the state who is carrying the bill. , before a Senate committee. “There is still a lot to do and we have to be creative.
But experts and analysts have raised questions about the effectiveness of the proposed law, warning that it would encourage civil actions to punish crimes and that it is drafted so broadly that it could ensnare, for example. example, “a taxi driver taking a person to a gun shop”.
The bill is modeled after a similar law in Texas allowing citizens to sue those who provide or help provide abortions. And even if it becomes law, it will automatically be struck down if the Texas law is ultimately found to be unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, it emerged that one of the men arrested in connection with the shooting had recently been released from a California prison, a few years into a 10-year sentence.
Smiley Martin, 27, was released from prison on probation in February after serving time for hitting a girlfriend, dragging her out of her house by her hair and whipping her with a belt, the authorities said. prosecutors. A previous parole offer was rejected after prosecutors said he posed ‘a significant and unreasonable risk to the safety of the community’.
Dandrae Martin, 26, who was held without bail, was released from an Arizona prison in 2020 after serving just over 18 months for violating probation in separate cases involving a felony conviction. aggravated assault in 2016 and a marijuana conviction in 2018.
Small memorials with candles, balloons and flowers remained near the crime scene on the outskirts of the city’s main entertainment district in honor of the six people killed. Officials identified the dead as Johntaya Alexander, 21; Melinda Davis, 57; Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; Sergio Harris, 38; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; and De’vazia Turner, 29.
Alexander, an aspiring social worker, was just shy of her 22nd birthday. “She was a willful person in her prime and she was killed in a senseless shootout,” her father, John Alexander, told the Sacramento Bee. “She was there with her sister, trying to have a good time.”
Melinda Davis was a “very sassy woman,” a friend told the newspaper, and lived on the streets of Sacramento near the scene of the shooting.
Described by insiders as the life of the party, Harris was a frequent presence at the London nightclub near the filming location. His mother called him a “very lively young man” who was always smiling.
Hoye-Lucchesi was born and raised in Sacramento and his survivors include his mother, his girlfriend and six young children, KCRA 3 reported.
A friend said KXTV-TV that Martinez-Andrade, who was killed in front of her best friend, “brought light into the room.”
Turner, who grew up playing football in Sacramento, had four young children and trained with his father five days a week.