Sacramento DA had urged state to keep shooting suspect behind bars. He was released early anyway

Adam Beam and Michael Balsamo
The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The mass killing that left six people dead and 12 wounded outside bars just blocks 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 what led to 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.

A man arrested in connection with the Sacramento shooting that killed six people was freed from prison weeks before and last year was rejected for earlier release after prosecutors argued he “clearly has little regard for human life,” documents show.

Dandrae Martin talks with attorney Linda Parisi at his first court appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court, in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Martin is facing charges connected to the shooting that killed and injured multiple people in Sacramento days earlier.

Smiley Martin, 27, 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.

The Sacramento police department said in a statement that there was a gunfight between at least two groups of men. No one has been yet been charged with homicide.

At least two people remain hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Authorities credited evidence and tips provided by the public with their break in the investigation.

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.

This Feb. 6, 2022, booking photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Smiley Allen Martin, two days before he was released to Sacramento County probation. Martin, the brother of Dandrae Martin, was arrested Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in connection with a mass shooting that killed six people in Sacramento, Calif.

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. More than 100 shots were unleashed in rapid-fire succession as hundreds of people scrambled for safety. Investigators 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.

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Eleven people were wounded, in addition to Smiley Martin, 27, who remained hospitalized and will be booked on the charges when his condition improves enough for him to be jailed, a police statement said.

His brother, Dandrae Martin, 26, was arrested Monday as a “related suspect” on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and being a convict carrying a loaded gun. He made a brief appearance on the gun possession charge Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

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 who was 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 crime.

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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 have 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 asking that he not be freed.

It wasn’t clear if Smiley Martin had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Attorney Linda Parisi talks with reporters after representing Dandrae Martin in his first court appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court, in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

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.

Defense lawyer Linda Parisi said an effort to seek 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.”