SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Police Department said Wednesday that “gang violence” was at the center of the shooting that killed six people and injured 12 over the weekend and that at least five gunmen were involved .
“While we cannot at this time clarify the precise gang affiliation of the individuals involved, gangs and gang violence are intertwined with the events that led to these shootings,” the department said in a statement.
The shooting, one of the deadliest in the city’s history, occurred outside nightclubs in downtown Sacramento early Sunday morning. Among the dead were a supermarket worker and a homeless woman.
Police said Wednesday the shooting involved at least “two groups of men,” but the notion of gang violence has changed significantly in the decades since the Crips and Bloods rose to prominence in California.
Sacramento’s gang structure has split over the past two decades, away from the traditional Crips and Bloods rivalry, researchers say. Several groups have since sprung up in the region, forming “subsets” of gangs in which confrontations are more personal and less territorial.
“It’s street politics,” said Freddie Dearborn, a former gang member who founded and now runs a local youth gun violence intervention program.
The specific motives for the recent shooting could be a number of things, law enforcement officials said. But the widespread availability of firearms has amplified the death of the conflict. Police said Monday they recovered more than 100 casings from the scene, a few blocks from the Capitol.
“Different cliques see each other, and that could be a destructive thing, unfortunately, because of politics,” Mr Dearborn said. “There are certain things you do and you don’t do. It can be anything – money, people you joke with, jail.
Law enforcement officials in Sacramento say they have not ruled out the possibility that some of the shooting victims were also gunmen. One of the victims, Sergio Harris, has been identified in previous cases as a gang member from Del Paso Heights, a community in North Sacramento.
Police have announced the arrest of three men since the shooting, but the levels of involvement of these suspects remain unclear. More than five shooters could be identified, police said, after investigators untangled which weapons were used and by whom by studying evidence including 200 videos and photos.
Two brothers, Dandrae and Smiley Martin, face charges of possession of firearms.
Police said Wednesday that Dandrae Martin fired a weapon during the shooting. Smiley Martin was released on probation in February after serving four years in prison for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Another man, also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, Daviyonne Dawson, was arrested on Monday after detectives spotted him carrying a weapon “immediately after” the shooting, according to a police statement.
“At this time, Dawson is not charged with any crimes directly related to the shooting,” the statement said. “Based on the type of firearm recovered, detectives do not believe this weapon was used in the shooting.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.