SACRAMENTO — One person was killed and three injured early Sunday morning when a gang dispute resulted in multiple gunshots ringing out near a large gathering of people downtown.
Police officers patrolling the area of J and 18th streets just after midnight were close enough to hear the gunshots, but couldn’t see who was firing them due what authorities said was a crowd in the hundreds loitering through the area.
The crowd, made up mostly of young adults, likely turned out for the city’s Second Saturday event, a downtown display of art and music that occurs the second Saturday of each month and ends at 10 p.m.
When the crowd dispersed, police discovered four victims, three men and one woman, all said to be in their 20s. The Sacramento Bee identified the victim who died at the scene as 24-year-old Victor Hugo Perez Zavala. The three other victims were taken to area hospitals and are expected to survive their injuries.
Based on the investigation thus far, detectives believe the shooting was preceded by an exchange of words between two groups of gang members. During the dispute, a man associated with one of the groups pulled out a gun and fired multiple times at the opposing group. One of the opposing gang members was struck. The other three victims, including Zavala, were uninvolved with the dispute.
The shooter is described as a black male between the ages of 18 and 21, 5-11 to 6-feet tall, 180 to 200 pounds, with shoulder length dreadlocks. He was wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans at the time of the shooting.
Police had stepped up its presence downtown for the city’s Second Saturday event after the previous midtown art walk resulted in widespread complaints of vandalism and teenagers staying out past Sacramento’s 10 p.m. curfew.
Those complaints had also drawn additional media scrutiny, which authorities are hoping to turn into a break. Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong sent out an email to media outlets asking for photos of the area after 9 p.m.
“I know the general feeling is to not share raw footage, but if you think you have a group of 5-6 males together and at least one fitting the general suspect description, detectives would appreciate any photos you could provide,” he said in the email.
The shooting has brought out defenders of the popular midtown draw, with city government and business officials citing a difference between the early evening crowds who roam midtown visiting art galleries and those who stay past midnight to visit bars and clubs.
The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone with information pertaining to this crime to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.