Three alleged gang members have been charged with multiple counts of murder stemming from a mass shooting last month in downtown Sacramento, California, that left six people dead and a dozen wounded, authorities said.
Two of the suspected gunmen are in custody, while the third suspect is still being sought by police, officials said.
"What we know is that this was clearly gang related. There was a gunfight between multiple gang rivals," Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert identified the murder suspects as Smiley Martin, 27, his 26-year-old brother, Dandrae Martin, and 27-year-old Mtula Payton.
Smiley and Dandrae Martin have been in custody since the shooting occurred.
Payton remains on the run and Lester said a team of police officers is doing everything they can to locate him and bring him to justice.
Schubert said the three suspects are each charged with three counts of murder stemming from the killings of "innocent bystanders" -- Melinda Davis, 57, Johntaya Alexander, 21, and Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21.
Schubert said the three other people killed in the shooting -- Sergio Harris, 38, Devazia Turner, 29, and Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32 -- participated in the gun battle.
"The evidence shows and will show that these individuals armed themselves with guns," Schubert said.
Citing California law, Schubert said if "individuals are involved in a gun battle and they kill innocent bystanders, all participants in that gun battle are responsible for the deaths of those innocent bystanders."
"It doesn't matter whose bullet killed who. What matters is that this was a gun battle between rival gang members who came armed to this scene in downtown Sacramento and innocent bystanders died," Schubert said.
Schubert said the investigation is ongoing and more charges will likely be filed, including attempted murder charges.
On April 3, the shooting broke out around 2 a.m. at the corner of 10th and K Streets in a popular nightlife area of Sacramento, just blocks from the State Capital Building. Lester said 70 to 80 people were in the vicinity of the gunfire and many were caught in the cross fire.
Harris, Turner or Hoye-Lucchesi were identified as having weapons when they were shot dead, Schubert said.
Lester said investigators believe there were a total of five shooters.
Schubert declined to say if Harris, Turner and Hoye-Lucchesi were among those identified as having opened fire.
She said more than 100 shell casings were collected at the crime scene.
Schubert said Smiley Payton faces an enhancement charge of being in possession of a fully-automatic 9mm firearm with an extended magazine.
In addition to murder, the Martin brothers and Payton are also charged with being convicted felons in possession of weapons. Because they are each charged with multiple slayings, they all face capital murder enhancements that could make them eligible for the death penalty, Schubert said.
At the time of the shooting, Payton was free on $50,000 bail, stemming from a January 2020 arrest for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm, Schubert said.
Lester said more than 40 detectives were involved in the investigation, 12 of them full-time. The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive are assisting in the investigation.
"This act of violence devastated families and made members of our community concerned for their safety," Lester said. "And as I said the day this happened, we are resolved to find those responsible and to secure justice for those victimized."