Sacramento mass shooting suspect dies in cell, police, lawyer say

A suspect who was being held in a California prison on charges related to a 2022 mass shooting in the state’s capital died Saturday in his cell, according to police and his attorney.

The 29-year-old inmate died while in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail around 2:15 a.m., the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on social media.

Public defender Norman Dawson told NBC News he was informed of the death of his client Martin Smiley Saturday morning. Smiley was awaiting trial on three criminal charges stemming from an April 3, 2022, shooting in Sacramento that killed six people and injured 12 others, including two of the suspected shooters.

Prison officers were conducting a cell check and found an unresponsive inmate. Police and then firefighters tried to save his life, but he was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s office said.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause of death and release the man’s name after notifying his next of kin, according to the sheriff’s office, which said it would investigate.

Martin was “fighting to defend his innocence during the preliminary hearing” at the time of his death, Dawson said in a written statement.

More than 100 shots were fired in rapid succession at a downtown entertainment area near the state Capitol building during the shooting around 2 a.m.

Two groups of men linked to gangs began shooting as bars and clubs emptied at closing time, sending hundreds of people desperately trying to reach safety. At least five armed men were involved, police said.

Martin, who was 27 at the time, was arrested while hospitalized with gunshot wounds. He was charged with murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession and transportation of a machine gun.

Authorities also arrested his brother, Dandrae Martin, 26 at the time, as a “related suspect” for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a loaded weapon. He suffered minor injuries.

Dandrae Martin posted live video of himself with a handgun hours before the shooting, a law enforcement official said.

A third man, Mtula Payton, was also charged in connection with the shooting.

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