An earlier version of this article misspelled Dandrae Martin's first name. The article has been corrected.
News of Dawson’s arrest came as the first “related suspect” in the shooting, 26-year-old Dandrae Martin — Smiley Martin’s younger brother — did not enter a plea at his first court appearance Tuesday; another hearing is scheduled for April 26. The younger Martin is charged with assault and illegal possession of a firearm.
Officials have noted that none of the charges filed as of Tuesday were for homicide related to Sunday’s shooting. Sacramento police said in a statement announcing Dawson’s arrest that detectives did not think that a gun recovered from Dawson was used in the shooting.
Smiley Martin, whose arrest was announced Tuesday, remains hospitalized under police supervision. Martin was among the dozen people seriously wounded at the shooting scene and will be transferred to the county jail once his medical care is complete, police said.
After Tuesday’s short hearing, Dandrae Martin’s attorney Linda Parisi told reporters outside the jail that she made a special appearance on behalf of the Sacramento County Conflict Criminal Defenders Office after the county’s public defenders said they were overloaded.
Parisi said she had not seen the police report, which she said would be necessary “to figure out what to do and how to properly handle the process.”
A motive for Sunday’s shooting remains unclear as investigators work to untangle what led to the chaotic scene and determine how many shooters were involved.
Gunfire was reported just after 2 a.m. Sunday along a stretch of downtown Sacramento known for bars and clubs, just one block from the state Capitol. Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said Sunday that police arrived at the scene to the sound of gunshots and found a “very large crowd” and several shooting victims. The crime scene, Lester said, was “very complex and complicated.”
Lester said a “large fight” preceded the shooting. A video posted to social media shows a brawl unfolding on a sidewalk as the shooting erupts, although Sgt. Zach Eaton, a police spokesman, told The Washington Post on Sunday that “we can’t confirm if that fight is what caused the shooting, or if there were two things going on at once.”
Detectives have executed warrants for at least three residences as they seek a motive for the shooting, in which “multiple” gunmen are believed to be involved. Investigators recovered more than 100 spent shell casings at the scene, along with a stolen handgun police said had been “converted to a weapon capable of automatic gunfire.”
‘He will continue to break the law’
Sunday’s shooting has been described as the deadliest in Sacramento history and brought renewed focus to the question of how to stem the flow of stolen or untraceable handguns, including “ghost guns.” It was unclear Tuesday whether weapons used in Sunday’s shooting were in either category.
The suspects’ histories have also drawn scrutiny — particularly Smiley Martin’s. Before his arrest this week in Sunday’s shooting, Martin’s history of criminal offenses included a 2013 firearms violation and, later, felony assault charges.
He was the subject of a 2021 letter to the state parole board in which the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office unsuccessfully urged the board to deny Martin’s request for early release.
“If he is released early, he will continue to break the law,” Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Danielle Abildgaard wrote in her April 29 letter, obtained by The Post.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released Smiley Martin in February, after he had received “post-sentencing credits,” agency spokesperson Dana Simas told The Post on Tuesday.
In an interview Tuesday with The Post, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert turned a critical eye on laws passed by the state legislature in recent years that allow eligible prisoners with nonviolent offenses a chance to be considered for early release.
“We don’t call ‘felon in possession of a firearm’ a violent crime,” Schubert said. “We don’t call people that commit domestic violence — even though they have a violent history — we let ‘em out early, constantly. And that is a dangerous recipe.”
Schubert, a Republican who was elected as district attorney in 2014 and is running for California attorney general, declined to discuss specifics of the investigation but issued a general call to reduce gun violence.
“It doesn’t matter what side of any political aisle you stand on,” she said. “Nobody wants guns, illegal guns in the hands of felons and prohibited persons.”
The six people killed ranged in age from 21 to 57. They were identified Monday as Johntaya Alexander, 21; Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; Devazia Turner, 29; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; Sergio Harris, 38; and Melinda Davis, 57.
About 100 people gathered in downtown Sacramento on Monday as the victims were named and loved ones mourned. A man who identified himself as Harris’s cousin spoke from the crowd and then was invited to speak from the microphones at the front.
“A change has to start,” said the man, Jackie Henderson. “When the hell are we going to let it start?”
The call for change in Sacramento came on the anniversary of another incident of mass violence from more than three decades earlier.
Monday marked the 31st anniversary of the hostage crisis at a Good Guys Electronics store in south Sacramento. Six people died after a quartet of former store employees took 41 people captive; three of the hostages were shot to death by their captors before police shot and killed three of the suspects.
In 2001, a disgruntled former security guard named Joseph Ferguson fatally shot five people, including some former co-workers, before turning the gun on himself the next day. The incident occurred days before the 9/11 attacks and has largely been forgotten locally.