Three men were charged with multiple counts of murder Tuesday in a mass shooting that left six people dead and 12 others injured in what authorities said was a gunbattle among rival gangs in Sacramento, California.
Smiley Martin, Dandrae Martin and Mtula Payton have each been charged with three counts of murder in the April 3 killings of Johntaya Alexander, 21; Melinda Davis, 57; and Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told reporters.
Smiley Martin and Dandrae Martin, who are brothers, have been in custody since last month, when they were accused of illegally possessing firearms. Payton remains at large.
Schubert said the suspects were not charged in the deaths of three other people because those victims — Devazia Turner, 29; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; and Sergio Harris, 38 — are alleged to have been armed and involved in the gunfight.
Prosecutors alleged in documents filed last month that the fight was among three gang groups, NBC affiliate KCRA reported.
“It doesn’t matter whose bullet killed who,” Schubert said. “What matters is that this was a gunbattle between rival gang members who came armed to this scene in downtown Sacramento and innocent bystanders died.”
A lawyer who has represented Smiley Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not immediately clear whether his brother had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
Relatives of Turner, Hoye-Lucchesi and Harris could not immediately be reached for comment. Harris’ mother has described her son as a “vivacious young man” who was fun to be around and was always smiling.
Turner’s relatives described him as a family man with four children who was “out just having fun with his friends” when he was gunned down.
The gunfire erupted in Sacramento’s main entertainment district as bars and nightclubs were closing.
Schubert attributed the lengthy gap between the April 3 shooting and Tuesday’s charges to “factual and legal complexities,” saying over 100 shell casings were recovered from a scene that stretched across a large part of downtown Sacramento.
Seventy to 80 witnesses have been interviewed in an investigation that she described as ongoing.