Gangs or guns? The Sacramento shooting blame game

A roadblock and two officers near the scene of a shooting in downtown Sacramento early Sunday.
A roadblock near the scene of a shooting in downtown Sacramento early Sunday.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 11. I’m Justin Ray.

Sacramento is still recovering after the recent shooting that killed six people and injured 12 more in the city’s downtown.

When these tragedies take place, how politicians and officials react matters. Their responses can guide the public in their efforts to understand what happened and how to cope with the devastation. Officials can also build support for reform.

In the shooting’s immediate aftermath, there were renewed calls for California to create legislation to prevent further bloodshed linked to firearms. To bolster this idea, some highlighted the fact that a stolen firearm used in the shooting was converted into a fully automatic weapon.

“The scourge of gun violence continues to be a crisis in our country, and we must resolve to bring an end to this carnage,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. Newsom also tweeted, “We cannot let gun violence be the new normal.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called the shooting “a senseless and unacceptable tragedy.” He also asked, “In what sane society do we allow the proliferation of assault weapons in the way that we see being used indiscriminately, not just in Sacramento but in other parts of the country?”


However, as new details emerged about the crime, focus turned to the suspects’ gang affiliations. Initially, police said the crime involved a man firing from a car as it drove up 10th Street just as patrons were leaving downtown nightclubs. However, now police say that gangs are to be blamed.

“It is increasingly clear that gang violence is at the center of this tragedy,” the Sacramento Police Department said in a Wednesday statement. “While we cannot at this time elaborate on the precise gang affiliation of individuals involved, gangs and gang violence are inseparable from the events that drove these shootings.”

Last week, Steinberg and others called on Newsom to spend $3 billion on crime prevention and gang intervention. Republican leaders, law enforcement officials and crime victims also held their own press conference to call for stiffer sentences for gun and gang crimes and an end to early release from prison.

Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert — a former Republican who is running as an independent for attorney general in the election later this year — will be handling cases linked to the tragedy. She is running against Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, who in the past has been accused of being soft on crime. Several law enforcement groups are lining up to support Schubert’s campaign.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was arrested Friday on suspicion of child sex abuse, authorities said. Sean Jerome Essex, 51, was booked into jail at 11:10 a.m., records show. He was released on $100,000 bail. Essex was arrested on suspicion of lewd or lascivious acts with a child and committing oral copulation with a child under the age of 14, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Last year, another L.A County sheriff’s deputy was arrested on similar charges. Los Angeles Times


Will Smith ban met with disbelief, accusations of racism. Smith is facing a 10-year ban from events held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for slapping Oscars presenter Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards in March. But some critics characterized the academy’s ruling against the “Fresh Prince” veteran as racially motivated, while others saw it as the group making up for lax repercussions for past transgressors. Meanwhile, Times reporters found out what really happened after the slap took place. Los Angeles Times

An Oscars statue at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
(Matt Sayles / Matt Sayles/invision/ap)

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A proposed bill winding its way through the state Legislature could make California the first state in the nation to reduce its workweek to four days for a large swath of workers. The bill, AB 2932, would change the definition of a workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours for companies with more than 500 employees. Los Angeles Times

Focus in ‘Fat Leonard’ Navy bribery trial turns to emails. The scandal involving a Navy contractor known as “Fat Leonard” has received a lot of media attention. Leonard Glenn Francis is accused of bribing and orchestrating deals to promote his contracts within the Navy, and planned “boys’ nights out” with prostitutes at posh hotels as a reward for their loyalty. Emails introduced in the trial against five naval officers accused of corruption paint an apparent picture of an alleged quid pro quo relationship between Francis and a group of Navy insiders. San Diego Union-Tribune


Members of the Sacramento community have created Save Sac Coalition, a citywide intervention effort to bring together mentors or “community ambassadors” to prevent violence, such as the recent shooting that rocked the city. They want to place individuals in several areas to talk to youths about solving issues without the use of violence. “We don’t want to wait until after something happens. We engage with these youths all the time,” says founder Mervin Brookins, who launched the effort. Sacramento Bee


Federal officials have charged 11 Californians with running a marriage fraud agency that arranged hundreds of sham marriages to help foreign nationals obtain U.S. work permits, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

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Soon, millions of engineered mosquitoes may be set loose in California in an experiment recently approved by the federal government. Some scientists say not so fast. Los Angeles Times

Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae swim in a container
Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae swim in a container displayed at the Florida Mosquito Control District Office on Aug. 24, 2016, in Marathon, Fla.
(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

A 3-year-old is recovering after being attacked by a dog at a Southern California home used as a day care center, officials said. The girl suffered bite wounds to her face, arms and stomach area and received 180 stitches after the attack April 2 in Hemet, said Riverside County Department of Animal Services Lt. Lesley Huennekens. Santa Rosa Press Democrat


The Big Fail: Inside the Lakers’ most disappointing season in franchise history. Problems arose for the team behind closed doors during training camp, with team staff members seeing their worst fears realized before the team played a game. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confers with guard Russell Westbrook.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confers with guard Russell Westbrook during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles on Nov. 26, 2021.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

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Los Angeles: Overcast 69 San Diego: Overcast 64 San Francisco: Rainy 55 San Jose: Rainy 57 Fresno: Rainy 61 Sacramento: Rainy 63


Today’s California memory is from Nancy Gammons:

I was born in Fresno, California. Now I live in Aromas, which is a rural community in central California. I am 77, have traveled, but have always lived in California. Why? It’s perfect. The sky is blue, the air is clear, and many people wish they lived here. I already do, and I’ll never leave.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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