Sacramento massacre was likely a shootout among rivals, not mass shooting, sources say

Detectives in Sacramento work the scene of a mass shooting.
(Via Los Angeles Times)

Evidence has emerged that Sunday’s deaths resulted from a fight that escalated into gunfire, killing bystanders in the crossfire between combatants.

Sunday’s eruption of gunfire near the California state Capitol, which left six dead and a dozen wounded, appears to be a result of a fight between rivals that caught bystanders in a crossfire of automatic and semi-automatic weapons fire, Sacramento law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

Police also announced two arrests, including one man with a long rap sheet who is currently hospitalized with bullet wounds. That man, Smiley Martin, 27, will be booked at Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of “possession of a firearm by a prohibitive person and possession of a machine gun” as soon as his medical treatments are complete, police said.

Martin is the brother of another suspect, Dandrae Martin, arrested a day earlier on suspicion of assault with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a gun.

Police also announced a third arrest on Tuesday, 31-year-old Daviyonne Dawson, who was seen carrying a gun in the aftermath of the shooting, but did not actually fire it. Dawson is not accused of involvement in the melee, but faces charges of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. He had been released on bail by Tuesday afternoon.

Police said they are still piecing together what happened in the early hours of Sunday morning as crowds of people were departing downtown bars and nightclubs. But they have said that a man in a car drove up 10th Street near the K Street Mall and unleashed a sustained barrage of bullets. At least one other person also fired a gun, killing two young women, three fathers and an unhoused woman well known in the neighborhood. Twelve others were hospitalized for gunshot wounds, some of them transporting themselves because there were not enough ambulances.

The complex crime investigation involves interviews with dozens of witnesses, reviews of camera footage, and processing more than 100 shell casings that littered the sidewalk, street, and nearby buildings. Sacramento Police Sgt. Zach Eaton said detectives are also reviewing more than 170 videos and social media posts submitted by the public.

Among them is one posted just hours before the shooting featuring Smiley Martin wielding a stolen fully automatic weapon found at the crime scene, according to law enforcement sources. That post has since been taken off social media.

Smiley’s brother Dandrae appeared in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon on a single charge of illegally possessing a weapon. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit and keeping his back to the media scrum there to photograph him.

He was represented pro bono by one of Sacramento’s top defense lawyers, Linda Parisi, appointed to the case due to an overload at the public defender’s office. Parisi asked that the case be continued without a plea being entered, and the court ordered Martin to return on April 26. He will remain in custody.

Outside the courthouse, Parisi said that Martin’s mood was “very somber,” adding, “This is obviously very serious.” Parisi said she was waiting to see if there were more arrests in the incident, and what the final charges for her client might be — and spoke out against gun violence.

“It’s more than just the criminal justice system. As a community, we need to address gun violence,” she said. “We are failing everyone. We are failing our young people.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a longtime advocate for gun control, struck a similar theme Tuesday, announcing that he will join legislative leaders and criminal justice reform advocates Wednesday to call for “immediate and substantial investments in crime prevention and healing services for crime victims.”

In an interview, Steinberg said Sacramento has spent tens of millions of dollars on “early intervention and gang prevention” but needs to do even more. “And we need to help out law enforcement officials to get more illegal guns off the street.”

Just a short walk from the crime scene, legislators in the Capitol vowed to do more to address gun violence in a state that already has the nation’s strictest gun laws. “Our message to California is simple,” Sen. Bob Hertzberg said Tuesday. “The Legislature will act to stop this plague of gun violence. We have to.”

The California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 30, 2016.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

He added: “Let me tell you something, if it takes another 107 gun laws to be able to stop this senseless gun violence, it’s the right thing to do.”

As the legislators debated, family members mourned their loved ones, and police continued to process evidence, social media posts of the violence began circulating, including from some of those allegedly involved as perpetrators.

In one from Facebook, posted shortly before 5 a.m. on Monday, Dandrae Martin — who was reportedly injured in the melee — offered a status update that read: “Smh I’m hit…” In the comments, friends asked the status of his brother Smiley and said they were praying for him.

Based on social media accounts, one of those shot and killed, Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32, appeared to be friends with the Martins, posting a photo with Smiley just last month.

Hours before the shooting, Hoye-Lucchesi uploaded videos on Instagram showing him and others brandishing weapons, including a gun with a red laser.

In another post, a graphic YouTube video that went live Monday seemingly showed the aftermath of the shooting. Police officers tried to treat people lying along the street, as friends and others gathered around.

“Please tell me what to do,” one woman pleaded with an officer, as she knelt over a body. “I’ll help you.”

“Help me roll her over,” the officer responded. He later said they needed the fire department to respond.

The person narrating the video said they heard “like 70 shots, 80 shots.” Up and down the street, people screamed out to one another and asked for help.

The video showed at least five people on the ground.

“Breathe, buddy,” one person said. “Keep breathing.”

Nearby, a CHP officer checked a woman’s pulse. She lay completely still.

A little farther away, an officer asked someone to look for anywhere else a victim might have been hit.

“There’s people dead everywhere,” the man recording the video said.

Chabria and Garrison reported from Sacramento; Mejia and Winton reported from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Jim Rainey in Los Angeles and Hannah Wiley in Sacramento contributed.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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