Sacramento County sheriff's detectives fear that a violent gang war was ignited this week after three shootings left one dead and three injured in the south area on Wednesday alone.
The beef between the gangs which authorities declined to name is long-standing, said sheriff's Sgt. Jason Ramos. But the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Alonzo Walsh in broad daylight Wednesday marked a significant escalation in tensions, Ramos said.
Two shootings that evening and just two miles away are suspected to be related, further evidence of a growing conflict.
"We fear that this is a gang war brewing," Ramos said.
Walsh was shot in the head about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday while on the west sidewalk of East Nichols Avenue, south of 16th Avenue in the Fruitridge area.
Witnesses told deputies a car was seen and heard speeding away, but descriptions varied.
Ramos said Walsh had not been validated by law enforcement as a gang member but that detectives are "absolutely certain he had a connection to a local gang."
Detectives suspect those connections played a role in the shooting, Ramos said.
Walsh's father told The Bee at the scene that his son was "troubled" and that he was a part of the street life.
About 8:15 p.m., callers reported gunfire about two miles southwest of the first shooting, in the 3700 block of 46th Avenue. A group of men was reported to have been gathered in the street when the shots erupted; bullets struck a 44-year-old bystander.
Witnesses reported cars racing from the scene, but again, descriptions were inconsistent. Evidence revealed more than one gun had been fired, Ramos said.
An hour and a half later, gunfire again was reported, this time in the parking lot of an apartment complex near 47th Street and 47th Avenue. A 17-year-old and a 27-year-old were hit by bullets and likely were involved in the altercation, Ramos said.
Evidence again indicated more than one shooter, he said. A dark-colored van, truck or sport-utility vehicle was seen leaving the area.
The conditions of the three surviving victims were not known Friday.
"We think there's a strong possibility that all three (incidents) may be connected," Ramos said.
However, it is not yet clear which, if any, were committed in retaliation for the morning's homicide, he said. It is possible all three shootings were committed by members of the same gang against their rivals.
The investigation into all three events continues. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's tip line at (916) 874-TIPS, text to 274637 with the keyword "SSD" or submit the information anonymously via www.sacsheriff.com.
Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @kim_minugh.