SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The mass killing that left six people dead and 12 wounded outside bars just a block from California’s Capitol last weekend was a gunfight involving at least five shooters from rival gangs, Sacramento police said Wednesday.
Police said they identified at least five gunmen but there may have been more. Only two suspects — both brothers wounded by gunfire — have been arrested in connection with the shooting and, so far, only face firearms charges.
“We’re still working through … who the actual shooters are in the case,” Sgt. Zach Eaton said.
Until Wednesday’s announcement, police had been silent on the motive for the shooting that erupted early Sunday as bars were letting out. Rapid-fire bursts of over 100 gunshots echoed through the streets as terrified patrons ran for their lives and others were hit by bullets.
Authorities credited witnesses who contributed nearly 200 videos, photos and other tips with helping the investigation.
Police declined to name the two gangs involved or the affiliation of any suspects.
One of the brothers in custody was freed from prison about two months ago and last year was rejected for earlier release after prosecutors argued he “clearly has little regard for human life,” documents show.
Smiley Martin, 27, who was released on probation in February, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. Hours before Sunday’s attack, Martin posted a live Facebook video of himself brandishing a handgun, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Police were trying to determine if a stolen handgun found at the crime scene was used in the massacre. It had been converted to a weapon capable of automatic gunfire.
Detectives also were trying to determine whether the gun Martin brandished in the video was used, according to the official, who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to publicly discuss details and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Martin and his brother were among those wounded when gunfire erupted about a block from the state Capitol at about 2 a.m. Sunday as bars closed and patrons filled the streets.
Investigators have said previously that they were trying to determine if a street fight outside a nightclub may have sparked the shooting.
The Sacramento County coroner identified the three women killed as Johntaya Alexander, 21; Melinda Davis, 57; and Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21. The three men killed were Sergio Harris, 38; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; and De’vazia Turner, 29.
Ten people were wounded in addition to the Martin brothers and at least two remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Smiley Martin was arrested in the hospital and will be booked when his condition improves enough for him to be jailed, police said.
His brother, Dandrae Martin, 26, was arrested Monday as a “related suspect” and appeared briefly Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court on a charge of being a convict carrying a loaded gun.
Investigators believe both brothers had stolen guns and are trying to determine how they got them, the law enforcement official told the AP.
A 31-year-old man seen carrying a handgun immediately after the shooting was arrested Tuesday on a weapons charge. Police said they don’t believe his gun was used in the shooting.
Smiley Martin has a criminal history dating to 2013. He was released on probation from state prison in February after serving about half of a 10-year sentence for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt, prosecutors said.
Martin might have been released sooner, but a Parole Board rejected his bid for early release in May after prosecutors said the 2017 felony assault along with convictions for possessing an assault weapon and thefts posed “a significant, unreasonable risk of safety to the community.”
Martin “clearly has little regard for human life and the law,” and has displayed a pattern of criminal behavior from the time he was 18, a Sacramento County deputy district attorney wrote in a letter last year to the Board of Parole Hearings.
It wasn’t clear if Smiley Martin had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Dandrae Martin, who was held without bail, was freed from an Arizona prison in 2020 after serving just over 18 months for violating probation in separate cases involving marijuana possession and aggravated assault.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told reporters Wednesday he had “serious questions” about why the brothers “were out on the streets.”
“And those questions need to be answered and they will be answered over the days ahead,” Steinberg said.
Defense lawyer Linda Parisi said any effort to seek Dandrae Martin’s release on bail will depend on whether prosecutors bring stiffer charges.
“If it turns out that the evidence demonstrates that this was mere presence at a scene that certainly argues more for a release,” Parisi said. “If it shows some more aggressive conduct then it would argue against it. But we don’t know that yet.”
This version corrects that Smiley Martin served about half of a 10-year prison sentence, not about two years of the term.