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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Downtown Sacramento mass shooting likely gang related

The mass shooting has also reignited the debate over gun control in a state that already has more firearm-regulating laws on its books than any other state.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — A mass shooting in downtown Sacramento that left six dead and a dozen wounded over the weekend was likely gang related and may have involved at least five shooters, police revealed 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,” Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said.

The latest in the investigation came after a morning press conference by city officials and community groups rallying for $3 billion in funding for crime prevention systems across the state. The downtown Sacramento mass shooting has also reignited the gun control debate between Democrats and Republicans, especially given the three suspects arrested thus far have all been charged with illegal possession of a firearm — one a machine gun. 

“We’ve heard a lot of arguments lately about crime and who's to blame, and it’s sad that we’re focused on playing the blame game instead of focusing on treatment. We need to do better,” said Philip Melendez of Smart Justice California at the press conference. 

Despite being generally outspoken about the need for gun control laws, Governor Gavin Newsom has remained relatively silent on the need for all-encompassing public safety initiatives and crime prevention programs. However, he did continue the push for Senate Bill 1327 which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

“Today, the Legislature took an important step towards holding the gun industry accountable for mass shootings in our communities involving illegal firearms and protecting residents, utilizing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed private citizens in Texas the ability to sue abortion providers. So long as the Supreme Court has set this precedent, California will use it to save lives,” Newsom said about the bill's progress. 

The bill would give a legal pathway for private citizens to file civil cases against any person who manufactures, distributes, imports, sells or transports assault weapons, .50-caliber Browning machine guns, ghost guns or ghost gun kits. 

SB 1327 allows greater accountibility to be placed on those involved in illegal firearm possession, but some say it isn’t enough. 

“Our systems need to do more to ensure that people who have been a part of the criminal justice system do not remain part of the criminal justice system for their long lives,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said at the press conference, after explaining the vicious cycle he's seen of people being released from the Sacramento County Main Jail each morning with no housing, job, mental health support, or help to combat substance abuse.

“I know this isn’t on the agenda today but I’m gonna say it anyway. This money needs to be matched with clear changes in the law in ways we have never considered before. There needs to be a legal right to housing and a legal right to mental health treatment for people in California, especially people who most need the help,” Steinberg said. 

San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Salazar, the top prosecutor of the county directly south of Sacramento, took a less radical approach.

“When we put those resources into families that we are dealing with right now, the violence stops, the home is stabilized, and the community is healed. This isn’t just an investment in an individual that is in crisis, this is an investment in each one of us.” 

Two of the three people arrested so far are brothers. Dandrae Martin, 26, faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Smiley Martin, 27, sustained serious injuries during the shooting and will face charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and illegal possession of a machine gun when he's sufficiently recovered to leave the hospital.

A third person also faces charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, but police do not believe he was involved in the mass shooting, which occurred Sunday morning around 2 a.m., when dozens of people headed into the streets around the Capitol as bars began to close.

 The six who were killed have been identified as Sergio Harris, 38; DeVazia Turner, 29; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; Melinda Davis, 57; Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; and Johntaya Alexander, 21.

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