By Kathryn Wood and Hongyi Wen
SACRAMENTO – A preliminary hearing here in Sacramento County Superior Court last Friday led to the court setting an attempted murder trial for defendants Brian Chavez and Ramiro Ramirez—who told a detective he is guilty—accused of shooting a man outside of Stingers Sports Pub and Grill on Jan. 26, 2020.
The evidence was so extensive, from surveillance video to witnesses, that the judge confessed he had plenty to convict them when it goes to trial.
Sacramento Police Officer Jeffrey Dahl testified that when he arrived at the scene, he observed the victim lying on the ground, claiming that he had just been shot. Dahl stated that he located casings and bullets outside of the bar.
The victim told the officers that he “did not know what happened or who shot him.”
After Dahl gathered witnesses to report what they had seen, he noticed a bullet hole in one of the front windows and stated that there was blood in the parking lot next to the victim’s vehicle. Dahl reported that an employee described that the noise “sounded like a rock went through the window.”
During the cross-examination, private defense attorneys Martin Tejeda and Steve Nelson questioned the distance of the blood in relation to the car and the victim, and asked how many minutes prior the gunshots had been fired.
Dahl failed to answer these questions and repeatedly answered, “I do not recall.” He stated that he observed the casing in the bar, but the projectile was “difficult to determine,” and the bullet hole struck through the window “five feet to the right of the main doors.”
When Dahl interviewed another employee of Stingers, she replied that she had a cigarette with the victim outside before the incident occurred, which was located in a different area. The employee noted that she did not see the victim communicate, interact, or argue with anyone.
But, when Deputy District Attorney Danny Lee asked whether the employee had a good view of the area, Dahl responded, “I don’t recall,” and it was noted that the employee did not see any aspect of the shooting, but after the victim walked outside, she heard the gunshot “30 seconds later.”
Officer Raul Recerra interviewed a bystander outside who was seated on top of a utility box next to the sidewalk, who claimed that a “full size sedan with black wheels pulled up” and “two males exited the vehicle.”
“I wouldn’t be sitting there if I was you,” one of them shouted at the seated individual. After this interaction, the individual proceeded to walk away. He claimed that the two males were 18-24 years old and wore grey hooded sweatshirts.
He stated that he did not “hear anything or see anything” and Recerra noted that the individual did “not appear to be under the influence.”
Detective Brian Murawski said surveillance footage from an apartment complex, that had a direct view to the front door of the bar and parking lot, allowed him to identify both defendants Brian Chavez and Ramiro Ramirez as in the vehicle.
Murawski noted that he “observed a red Nissan vehicle pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex” and could see “the license plate associated with the vehicle.”
As Detective Murawski recounted what he saw from the footage, he noted that the two subjects walked into the parking lot, made their way around the area, and continued back toward their car, and then “walked on the sidewalk in front of Stingers and took a seat on the curb.”
After 30 to 40 minutes, the victim came out of the front door of Stingers and walked toward his white Mercedes that was parked in front of the bar. Murawski described that as the victim walked out toward his car, both male subjects stood up and walked toward him.
“Both male subjects appeared to extend their arms as if they have handguns and are pointing them towards the [victim],” stated Murawski, who confirmed he saw what appeared to be semi-automatic black hand guns” in the hands of the defendants.
When DDA Lee asked whether Murawski was able to interpret where the guns pointed from the video, Murawski replied that it was “towards the [victim]’s body,” and said he also saw sparks from fired guns, followed by the victim immediately falling to the ground.
Murawski said the victim believed that both subjects “fired shots at him,” and although the victim was unable to see the defendants’ full faces, he described them as “two males…both young in their 20’s…wearing hoods.”
After speaking with one of the attending nurses, Murawski reported that the victim had “through and through” injuries and had damage to “his colon, lungs, and spleen,” enduring “multiple surgeries.”
Murawski also conducted an interview with Chavez on Jan 29, 2020 about the shooting. When Murawski questioned where Chavez was during the incident, he stated that he was in the area in his vehicle, and had “just been driving around and thought it was a good place to pull over and listen to music.”
Chavez admitted that he was driving the vehicle pictured in the surveillance footage on the night of the incident, noting he “stayed in his car and never left” and said, “he was there by himself,” Murawski recalled.
According to Murawski, Chavez admitted he parked in front of the Stingers, but “heard gunshots and got scared and drove away.”
After Murawski showed Chavez still photographs from the surveillance footage and asked whether he recognized the two subjects in the photographs, Chavez refused to answer and stated that he “needed an attorney.”
Murawski also searched Chavez’s iPhone and found a group of male subjects firing handguns in an empty field. “You can see them firing handguns…and a maroon colored vehicle hood is seen in the video as well… which matches the Nissan in the surveillance video,” said Murawski, who located where the video was taken, he went to the site and collected bullet and caliber casings from the scene.
Judge Kevin McCormick stated that “there is way more than enough evidence that connects Chavez at this point [as the shooter]” and further asked if there was evidence that connected Ramirez to this incident.
Detective Murawski stated that he obtained text messages and phone calls between Chavez and Ramirez the night of the shooting. Ramirez claimed that Chavez called him that night, saying that “he was in trouble” and showed up to his apartment with handguns.
Chavez told Ramirez that some guy was “talking about someone’s girlfriend” and “he wanted to teach that guy a lesson,” Detective Murawski added that messages indicated the two suspects went to the bar to “teach some guy a lesson,” and that Chavez told Ramirez “don’t worry about doing anything unless I need help.”
Ramirez told the detective that Chavez started yelling at the guy, and then pointed his gun at the victim, Chavez believed the victim was “reaching towards his waistband” so he fired a shot at the subject.
Murawski mentioned that Ramirez “was not being evasive and was being truthful to the best of his ability,” and that he started to “tear up at the end” and was “remorseful.”
When questioned whether Ramirez had seen the victim reach for a gun in his waistband, Murawski responded that “his movements were fairly ambiguous” and he did not appear to possess a firearm.
“There is one flash that is very obvious, it is hard to determine if there were multiple” Murawski added.
Ramirez took full responsibility for shooting the victim in his testimony, noting, “I aimed for the stomach and as soon as it happened, I could not believe that I did it. I just got scared…I was just shocked,” Ramirez emphasized.
“I have never seen that guy before, I can’t even remember his face,” Ramirez stated. “I did not go there intending to shoot anyone, I was just there to help other friends.”
During the cross-examination, Tejeda asked Murawski where the victim was wounded. Murawski replied that it was on the “lower right side” of his body.
Tejeda and Nelson argued that this incident would fall under assault with a deadly weapon, as opposed to attempted premeditated murder.
They added that there was no intent to murder this individual and stated that “if they tried to kill him they would have shot him multiple times.”
Judge McCormick ruled that the incident demonstrated attempted murder and the evidence was sufficient to hold the defendants to answer in trial later this year.
Kathryn Wood is a third year at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Professional Writing and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. She is from Petaluma, California.
Hongyi Wen is a junior at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Sociology. He is from Guangzhou, China.
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