SACRAMENT, Calif. — Six huge photographs topped with flowers and garlands lined a downtown street in California’s capital Wednesday, each with a small memento of bouquets, candles and cards on a stretch of sidewalk dedicated to the six people who were shot to death last weekend in a gang dispute. which turned into a mass shooting.
Candlelight vigils, somber press conferences and private moments among friends and family were held this week as the downtown Sacramento community struggled to understand the tragedy.
The violence erupted early Sunday morning when two groups of gang-connected men began shooting as bars and clubs emptied at closing time, police said. At least five armed men fired dozens of rapid-fire shots into the streets, and patrons fled in terror.
Six people were killed and 12 more suffered gunshot wounds, including two brothers who have been arrested in connection with the massacre. At least two people remained hospitalized Wednesday.
The Sacramento County Coroner identified the six people killed as: Johntaya Alexander, 21; Melinda Davis, 57; Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; Sergio Harris, 38; Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; and De’vazia Turner, 29.
Police said Wednesday that evidence shows at least five people opened fire in what authorities called a gang-related shooting, but did not specify which gangs. Authorities have arrested the two brothers in connection with the shooting, but have not disclosed their alleged roles. No one has been charged with murder.
Turner had four young children, including a 3-year-old girl named Penelope with sticky fingers. But his bright yellow Mercedes CLS was always clean.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Turner played football from a young age until a knee injury stopped him. He worked as a manager for an inventory company, keeping a close eye on things his mother might like and letting her know when they would go on sale.
“He was a protector,” said his mother, Penelope Scott. “Raising him as a single mom, you know, he took on the role of being the man of the house. He took care of everything.”
He worked out with his father, Frank Turner, five days a week. When they weren’t pumping iron, they were probably talking about cars. They both had old Buicks (Turner’s was a 1973 while his dad’s was a 1970) and Turner had big plans for his. He had just ordered a new stereo and a cherry wood finish steering wheel.
Frank Turner said he plans to finish his son’s car, including painting it to include images of De’vazia’s face for his children to see.
“I want them to see their dad when they see that car,” Frank Turner said.
De’vazia Turner had visited her mother on Saturday, ate leftover pork chops and showered before briefly falling asleep on her couch. When she woke up, she said she was going out, a rarity for him because she works a lot, she Scott said.
Scott woke up around 1 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. He was looking at his phone when he got a call that his son had been killed.
“Your children are supposed to bury you. You’re not supposed to do that,” she said. “I am grateful that he has a legacy with his children. However, you know, she is 29 years old. He didn’t make it to 30.”
The last time Frank Turner saw his son was at the auto shop where they were working on their cars. After his son’s death, a friend called Frank Turner and told him that the store’s security cameras had picked up his conversation.
He saw the video, a father and son spending time together on something they loved, and he cried.
Alexander had driven to downtown Sacramento to pick up his older sister at a club, a sister who would later see her breathe her last.
About to turn 22 and live in her first apartment, she dreamed of becoming a social worker helping children. Her family treasured her spark and her honesty, they told reporters.
“She was outgoing, headstrong, she spoke her mind whether you liked it or not,” her father, John Alexander, told KCRA-TV.
She was a doting aunt to her nieces and nephews as the youngest of four children, John Alexander told the Los Angeles Times. Her birthday was at the end of the month.
Her daughter’s name was a combination of hers and her older sister’s, she told the Times.
“She was just starting her life,” he told the newspaper, sobbing. “Stop all these pointless shooting.”
He is survived by his parents and three older brothers, KCRA-TV reported.
In life, Davis sometimes sought out housing services and resources as a longtime member of Sacramento’s homeless community. A day after her death, a community group sought to help others who lived on the nearby streets as a tribute to her.
The group brought dinner and supplies Monday night to people in a plaza just yards from the crime scene and dedicated their efforts to Davis, KCRA-TV reported.
A small bouquet of purple roses with a note that read “Melinda rests in peace” was also left on the street, as well as a card with messages, including one that read: “Melinda, we’re sorry Sacramento failed you. You deserved better.
She had recently returned to the downtown business district after officials helped her find housing before the pandemic hit, according to Shawn Peter, a guide with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.
Davis, who had known Davis for 15 years, told The Sacramento Bee that he had lived in the area on and off for a decade.
“Melinda was a very eccentric person, a very sassy lady,” he told the newspaper, saying. “This was her world, 24/7.”
Davis was a regular guest at Maryhouse, a day center for homeless women and children, from 2016 to 2018, director Shannon Stevens said in an email to The Associated Press.
Stevens remembered her as kind, but someone who did not do well in crowds. She was seeking housing services at the time of her death.
“This was a space she came to find respite from the trauma of living on the streets of our city,” Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, which runs the Maryhouse program, said in a statement.
Described by family members as the life of the party, Harris was a frequent presence at the London nightclub, which is close to the scene of the shooting.
“My son was a very lively young man,” his mother, Pamela Harris, told KCRA-TV. “He’s fun to be around, I like to party, he smiles all the time. Don’t bother people. That this is happening is crazy. I’m just at the point right now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t even feel like this is real. I feel like this is a dream.”
Members of his family congregated at the crime scene on Sunday after he was not heard from for hours. Later that day, Harris was the first victim publicly identified by the coroner.
“This is a sad and terrible act of violence that has claimed the lives of many,” his wife, Leticia Harris, told KCRA-TV. “I want answers so I can have closure for my kids.”
Martínez-Andrade was killed in front of her best friend, according to KXTV-TV.
They described her as someone who “brought light into the room,” the station reported, and had a positive outlook.
“There was never a dull moment with her. She has a beautiful heart and a beautiful mind. Everyone misses her so much,” her best friend, who was not named, told KXTV-TV.
Hoye-Lucchesi was born and raised in Sacramento and his survivors include his mother, his girlfriend and six young children, KCRA 3 reported.
“I never wanted to have children, and if I said that I was going to have a child, I just wanted a boy. And I was blessed with a child,” Sherilyn Hoye told the television station.
Hoye-Lucchesi’s girlfriend called Hoye at 2:45 am to tell him the tragic news. She later saw painful images on social media.
“It was a post from my son on the dead floor. It was sent to me through Instagram. My son was lying dead on the ground,” Hoye told KCRA.
A memorial with white and blue balloons, candles and two empty Hennessy bottles was left a block from the shooting to honor Hoye-Lucchesi. On the ground, someone wrote “Josh” in what appeared to be blue paint.
“I love you and miss you. Forgive my heart!” someone wrote with black marker on a white star-shaped balloon. “Things will never be the same again,” said another balloon.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento contributed to this report.