New videos, details upend narrative of Sacramento massacre that killed six
When police first arrived at the scene of the shooting in the heart of downtown Sacramento on Sunday around 2 a.m., they came across bodies lying on the street.
At first, it appeared to be a mass shooting that left six dead and 12 wounded.
But in recent days, more details have emerged that offer a different picture of the violence.
Here's what we know:
What sparked the shooting?
Authorities still don't have a firm motive.
But it's clear now that the shooting was the result of a conflict among groups of people that turned into a gun battle on a crowded street filled with patrons leaving as bars closed.
Initially, police said the crime involved a man firing from a car as it drove up 10th Street just as patrons were leaving downtown nightclubs around 2 a.m.
But according to Officer Chad Lewis, detectives are “able to confidently say” — based on a preliminary examination of the evidence — that at least five people pulled out weapons and began firing them that night, with gunfire hitting innocent victims.
Police are expected to share more information about the crime in the coming days, as they continue to sift through evidence from a complex investigation. It is one that includes interviews with dozens of witnesses, more than 200 videos and social media posts, ballistics from the more than 100 shell casings that littered the sidewalk, and video from police cameras.
Who has been arrested?
Three people have been arrested, and police said they expect to make more arrests in the coming days.
But no one has been charged with murder.
Only one alleged shooter, a 26-year-old man arrested Monday, has been identified by police. Dandrae Martin appeared in court Tuesday. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a gun.
Dandrae Martin’s brother, Smiley Martin III, 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 he gets out of the hospital. Smiley Martin was shot during the barrage. Police and court records show he has a lengthy violent crime record stretching back nearly a decade. He is affiliated with the Crips gang, according to his social media posts.
A third man, Daviyonne Dawson, 31, was arrested after being spotted 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 will face charges of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. He has been released on bail.
What do we know about the lead-up to the shooting?
Sacramento police also confirmed Wednesday that officers got a call involving the Martin brothers on Saturday night, just hours before the shooting.
In a video that was since released on social media, the Martin brothers appear standing in a parking lot brandishing guns. A Sacramento police cruiser can be seen driving by in the video.
Lewis revealed that police got a call a little after 8 p.m. Saturday about a disturbance at that address involving a group of people who were potentially poised to start fighting.
But before officers could respond, they got a call about two at-risk children in the area, separate from the Martins. Concerns about the children took precedence, with eight officers redirected to make sure they were safe.
By the time officers returned to check up on the Martins a bit after 10 p.m., the two brothers were gone.
Some four hours later, a burst of gunfire rocketed through the K Street mall downtown.
What do videos of the shooting show?
One shows a large group of people fighting on the street, followed by rapid gunfire. Another captures multiple volleys of gunfire, including what sounds like a possible automatic weapon, before people on the street run for their lives.
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.
What do we know about the gang involvement?
Police have not named the gangs or what the motive for the deadly barrage might have been.
Law enforcement sources have said police are looking for links between some of those allegedly involved in the shooting and the Crips gang.
“This tragedy downtown is a very public example of what families in many of our neighborhoods know too well, “ said Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester in a statement Wednesday. “The suffering inflicted by gang violence does not limit itself to gang members. It spills over to claim and shatter innocent lives and harm our entire community.”
What do we know about the guns used?
At least one of the guns police say were recovered from the massacre that left six people dead and twice as many injured had been modified with a so-called “auto-sear” or “switch” to boost its firepower. The conversion devices are illegal, and authorities say they are turning up at crime scenes across the U.S. with alarming frequency.
Amid the carnage along K Street in the shadow of California’s Capitol, Sacramento police detectives found a stolen gun that had been “converted to a weapon capable of automatic gunfire.” The discovery confirmed suspicions authorities had developed after hearing audio recordings of the shooting on social media that revealed the distinct sound of rounds firing off at rapid speed. Officials estimate at least 100 shots were fired.
Handguns retrofitted with switches have surfaced at other California crime scenes. Gunmen used them in the deadly shooting of federal guards in Oakland in 2020, as did gang members in the killing of four people in Fresno the year before.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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