By: Nicole Knauer
SACRAMENTO, CA – On April 3rd, after bars had closed for the night, a shooting in downtown Sacramento occurred between rival gangs, leaving six people dead and twelve wounded. More than one hundred shots were fired, most in rapid-fire bursts, and lasted only for a short period. So far, three people have been arrested during the investigation, two of them confirmed to be connected with the shooting, and none have been charged with homicide. Two of the arrested, brothers Smiley and Dandrae Martin, were charged by prosecutors only with gun possession, and both have had previous felony charges, including convictions for violently attacking women they solicited for sex work.
After serving less than five of his ten-year sentence following state law changes that decreased some felony charges, Smiley Martin was released from prison in February on probation. Prosecutors rejected an even shorter sentence for Smiley, writing to the Parole Board that Smiley should not be released earlier due to his little regard for either the law or human life.
Although the details of the shootout, all of its participants, and what led to its occurrence have yet to be released by police, a fifteen-minute video posted to Facebook identifies Smiley and Dandrae Martin, as well as Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, one of the men who died during the shooting. The video was posted four hours before the shooting occurred and shows Smiley brandishing a large handgun. In the video, Smiley speaks of affiliation with the Crisps street gang, and Hoye-Lucchesi is heard making veiled threats against someone else. At another point in the video, the handgun is relocated to Smiley’s waistband and later in the video, a police car drives by and asks the men if they have seen a missing child. Officials, so far, have concluded that the shootout was between rival gangs, and one victim was identified to belong to the Bloods.
Other victims included Johntaya Alexander, 21; Melinda Davis, 57; Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; Sergio Harris, 38; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; and De’vazia Turner, 29. They were not gang-affiliated and were simply passing by the area.
In response to this tragedy, President Joe Biden has released a statement addressed to Congress on April 8th, speaking out about gun violence prevention. Despite Biden’s promises to address gun violence and take more proactive gun control measures, “advocates and some Democrats argued that the president could act faster on some measures” reports the Sacramento Bee.
There is scrutiny, even among Biden’s supporters, that Biden’s attempt to restrict access to firearms has not been enforced with any signature legislative accomplishments, despite some executive activity and funding of local anti-violence measures. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) said, “The administration can act with some urgency here…I know the administration is focused on Ukraine, but there are, you know, 100 people dying every day here in this country and we need both Congress and the administration to be acting with urgency.”
In support of Biden, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, states that it is not Biden, but the Senate, stalling more aggressive efforts. “It is a 50-50 Senate. And so people who are working on a variety of issues are frustrated about how difficult it is to pass anything through the Senate. It is intractable,” Watts said. Biden, earlier in the year, attempted to ban assault weapons and expand background checks to include the sale of all firearms, and the U.S. House passed two gun control measures including increasing background checks from two days to twenty, but the Senate refused to approve either after a bipartisan compromise failed.
In his speech, Biden urged action and promised to continue to fight for anti-gun measures in the wake of the Sacramento tragedy: “we must do more than mourn; we must act… That is why my administration has taken historic executive action to implement my comprehensive gun crime reduction strategy — from standing up gun trafficking strike forces to helping cities across the country expand community violence interventions and hire more police officers for community policing.”