By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is seeking justice for three women who died in a shootout between rival factions in the early hours of April 3 in downtown Sacramento.
Brothers Dandrae Martin, 26, and Smiley Martin, 27, and 27-year-old Mtula Payton have been charged with the murders of Melinda Davis, 57, Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21, and Johntaya Alexander, 21, Schubert said at a news conference May 3.
She and Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester announced the charges at Schubert’s downtown office. Schubert said the K Street shooting was a “gun battle between rival gang members.”
“The evidence shows and will show that the individuals armed themselves with guns,” Schubert said.
“It was a complex scene and this is a complex set of facts,” she added, calling the three female victims “innocent bystanders.”
Six people died in the shooting, which occurred near 10th and K streets as night clubs were closing. Twelve survivors suffered gunshot wounds from minor to critical.
Sergio Harris, 38, Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32, and 29-year-old DeVazia Turner died in the gun battle, but the police are holding them responsible for endangering the lives of innocent people. All three alleged shooters are eligible for capital murder charges, Schubert said.
Lester said during the news conference that the shooting was “clearly gang-related” and one of the weapons used was a stolen handgun “with full-automatic capabilities and high-capacity magazine.”
About 70 to 80 people were in close proximity to the shooting, Schubert said. Davis, one of the women killed, was an unhoused individual known by local proprietors along K Street.
Alexander, who was nearing her 22nd birthday, had just arrived to pick up her older sister, who was leaving a nightclub. The victims were caught up in a situation for which police are still trying to piece together a motive. Detectives have said they believe the shooting was triggered by an altercation between at least two groups of men affiliated with local street gangs. Only one gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting; the others apparently were removed before officers arrived.
“There was a gunfight between multiple gang rivals,” Lester said. “More than 100 casings were found on the scene from handguns of two different calibers. We also know that there were at least five shooters. This investigation is still ongoing.”
Schubert said Harris, Hoye-Luchessi, and Turner by law are not considered victims unless a turn in the investigation develops. The D.A., currently running for state attorney general, said that law holds them accountable for their actions.
The case is similar to a barbershop shootout on Stockton Boulevard in December 2010, which resulted in the death of the daughter of local businessman and former Sacramento Chamber of Commerce president Richard Nelson.
Monique Nelson, shielding her 2-year-old son, was killed by a stray bullet when seven men engaged in a gang-related gun battle outside of Fly Cuts and Styles Barbershop.
Two men were found guilty of first-degree murder. One died in the gun battle but authorities said he was a part of a melee and did not charge anyone for his death. Ms. Nelson’s son survived the ordeal.
“It doesn’t matter whose bullet killed who,” Schubert said. “What matters is that this was a gun battle between rival gang members who came armed to this scene in downtown Sacramento and innocent bystanders died.”
A closed-casket funeral for Harris was held at Calvary Christian Center on April 29, according to community activist Leia Schenk and Roberts Family Development Center co-founder Derrell Roberts.
“Mr. Harris has been laid to rest,” Schenk told The OBSERVER.
Dandrae Martin and Smiley Martin are in police custody. Payton, who was arrested after the shooting on unrelated gun charges, bailed out of jail and has not been found, Lester said.
“We currently have a team of detectives doing everything they can to locate Mr. Payton,” Lester said.
Smiley Martin, who was hospitalized after sustaining injuries during the shooting, was arrested for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. All three men face enhancements and additional charges, Schubert said.
The younger Martin has an outstanding arrest warrant in Riverside County for violating two terms of his probation related to a domestic violence arrest in 2014. Schubert said charges also were filed against Payton with three counts of Employment Development Department (EDD) fraud.
None of the men have been charged with wounding individuals who survived the incident, Schubert said. The investigation is ongoing.
“This act of violence has devastated families and has made members of our families concerned for their safety,” Lester said. “As I said the day this happened, we are resolved to finding those responsible and to secure justice for those victimized. We’ve made several arrests in this case but there is still more work to do.”