Three charged with murder in Sacramento shooting, nation’s deadliest this year

Man is seen in this image firing his gun in  downtown Sacramento.
According to a 46-page arrest warrant filed by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, Mtula Payton is seen in this image firing his gun to the south on 10th Street in downtown Sacramento, amid what authorities have called a gang shootout on April 3, 2022. Six people died and 12 were injured in the melee.
(Sacramento County District Attorney)
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Sacramento authorities on Tuesday charged three alleged gang members with murder in a rampage that killed six and wounded 12 in a barrage of bullets outside a Sacramento nightclub strip in the early hours of April 3.

Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert said Smiley Martin, his brother Dandrae Martin, and rival gang member Mtula Payton are each charged with the murders of three women — Melinda Davis, Johntaya Alexander and Yamile Martinez-Andrade — struck in the crossfire of their shootout.

The Martin brothers are in custody, but Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said Payton, who fled the crime scene in a white Chevrolet Equinox, remains a fugitive. “We have currently a team of detectives doing everything they can do to locate Mr. Payton during the course of this investigation,” she said.


The suspects were not charged with the murders of the three alleged rival gang members killed , Sergio Harris, Devazia Turner, and Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi. Those three, authorities said, were engaged in firing guns themselves until they were cut down in hails of gunfire.

“The law says that when individuals are involved in a gun battle and they kill innocent bystanders, all participants in that gun battle are responsible for the death of the bystanders,” the district attorney said. “It doesn’t matter whose bullet killed who.”

All three also face allegations of special circumstances in the shootout, the nation’s deadliest gun rampage this year. That means they could be subject to the death penalty, although the death penalty is essentially outlawed in California.

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The announcement comes exactly one month after the shootout unleashed more than 100 bullets on a crowded street just as patrons were leaving downtown clubs in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

Within days, police had announced that they believed the shooting was gang-related and that at least five people had drawn weapons and opened fire.

That conclusion was based on an analysis of videos of the crime scene, which enabled police to develop a detailed timeline of the rampage, which was included in a 46-page arrest warrant filed in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday.


Police determined that the incident began about 1:57 a.m. when about 70 to 80 people were congregated on the northeast corner of 10th and K streets, just blocks from the state Capitol, as clubs were letting out for the night.

Smiley Martin was standing on the corner with his brother Dandrae and at least one other man, Hoye-Lucchessi. A witness told police that Smiley Martin made a reference to his gang.

One of the men, whom police describe as “wearing all black” but do not otherwise identify, raised his right arm parallel to the ground pointing north.

In response, a group of men, including Payton and another man later shot to death that night, Turner, began walking toward Smiley Martin and his companions. Payton, according to a police review of the video, “reached toward his waistband.”

The crowd suddenly began to flee, on foot and in vehicles. A hotdog vendor ran from his cart.

One minute later, Harris crossed 10th Street and joined Turner and Payton, according to a motion prosecutors filed in court last month. Harris was also later shot to death.


Less than 20 seconds later, Smiley Martin turned and faced the group. Shortly after that, a camera captured an image of him holding a handgun with an extended magazine in his left hand, down by his leg, according to court documents.

Suspect angles his firing arm downward toward rival gang members in the Sacramento shootout.
According to the Sacramento County district attorney’s office, this image shows Dandrae Martin angling his gun downward toward rival gang members, Sergio Harris, Devazia Turner and Mtula Payton, in the April 3 shootout.
(Sacramento County District Attorney)

An explosion of gunshots rang out less than 15 seconds later.

The arrest warrant said video shows Harris’ arm extending across Turner’s chest, followed by a muzzle flash as if from a gun.

As that happens, a camera also captured Martinez-Andrade — who was standing with the Martins and Hoye-Lucchesi — falling to the ground.

Martin, according to police analysis of video, then stepped forward and fired his own gun toward Harris and Turner.

Seconds later Dandrae Martin fired, according to the arrest warrant.

Next to the Martins, Hoye-Lucchesi collapsed on the ground. Dandrae Martin suffered a graze wound, and Smiley Martin was seriously injured but still on his feet.


Preliminary analysis of ballistics indicated that Smiley Martin fired “approximately 28 rounds.”

Smiley Martin and his brother fled eastbound on K Street toward the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Martin allegedly ditched the gun, which police later recovered. Police also managed to get surveillance video showing Martin dropping it, according to the prosecutors’ motion — just moments before encountering officers responding to the shooting.

The Martin brothers were transported to the hospital with gunshot wounds. The gun, found later, was a Glock 19 handgun with an extended 30-round magazine, a tactical laser right and a full automatic switch. In short, an illegal machine gun. There was blood on it.

To the south, meanwhile, Harris and Turner were dead, but Payton continued to fire as he fled northbound on 10th Street. The arrest warrant said police found 18 9mm shell casings — apparently fired indiscriminately— that matched the map of his flight. Then he jumped into his car, parked in front of a liquor store, and vanished.

In analyzing the crime scene, police said in their arrest warrant that Harris, Turner, Alexander and Davis appear to have been felled by bullets fired by the Martin brothers, who were allegedly shooting north from the northeast corner of 10th and K streets.

Hoye-Lucchesi and Martinez-Andrade, meanwhile, appear, according to the arrest warrant, to have been killed by bullets fired by a group that included Harris, Turner and Payton.


Davis, who was homeless and well-known to merchants in the area, was found in a makeshift tent camp about a block away from the crime scene.

Multiple crime scenes, reluctant witnesses, weapons possibly removed the scene. To top it off, police are now seeking a fugitive suspect.

April 14, 2022

Just hours before the shooting, Hoye-Lucchesi and Smiley Martin ventured into rival territory — a Del Paso Heights apartment complex — to film a video in which they displayed firearms, flashed gang signs and “discussed going to downtown Sacramento while armed to loiter outside nightclubs,” according to prosecutors. They referenced the “29th,” a subsect of the Garden Blocc Crips, and boasted about “shooting rival gang members.”

The Martin brothers and Hoye-Lucchesi are part of the the Garden Blocc Crips, prosecutors said. The other three men were associated with G-Mobb, a rival gang.

The carnage quickly became a talking point in California’s battle over criminal justice reform. Republicans and some police advocates argued that it illustrated the need for stiffer sentences for gun and gang crimes and an end to early release from prison.

Many progressives, including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, said it proved the need to spend more on crime prevention and other community services.