The death of a 34-year-old man who was shot in his car before he crashed into a tree Wednesday night was the third homicide in North Highlands in less than a month, authorities said.
In response to the rash of violence, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department will increase the number of officers from specialized units in the area, officials said.
Carlos Bryant, a father of five, died after his Ford Mustang smashed into a tree down the block from his Poplar Boulevard home, sheriff's officials said. Bryant had been hit with at least one bullet during a volley of gunfire in front of a home on North Haven Drive and was apparently trying to get home when he crashed, family members and investigators said.
Authorities estimated Bryant was driving between 50 and 80 mph when he hit the tree and said it doesn't appear he tried to slow down before the impact. The front of the sports car wrapped around the tree -- witnesses said the front end was so compressed, the radiator nearly touched the windshield -- and both headlights popped off and landed in a neighbor's yard.
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"I came outside and there was a car in my yard," said Eric Payne, who has lived for 17 years in the house where Bryant crashed. "He was gone. It's a sad situation. Whatever happened, he didn't deserve this."
Investigators do not think Bryant's death is related to two other May homicides in the neighborhood of ranch-style homes near the former McClellan Air Force Base.
On May 3, 24-year-old Brenden Dustin Howton was found shot to death inside his Larchmont Drive home. Six days later, 18-year-old Joseph Gomez was shot to death while walking along David Drive near Gilman Way.
A fourth neighborhood resident -- 31-year-old San Powanich -- was shot and killed on Ohio Lane on Feb. 10, authorities said.
In response, the sheriff's motorcycle and gang units will increase their presence in North Highlands, and some members of the Special Enforcement Detail -- the department's SWAT team -- will patrol the area when the officers are not on calls, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.
"The Sheriff's Department is moving some of its specialized units to impact the recent increasing trend in violent crime," Curran said.
According to investigators, the most recent killing unfolded as Bryant was parked in a friend's driveway Wednesday night. Two men approached his car about 10:12 p.m. and Bryant's friend heard the group get into an argument.
As the friend walked inside her home, gunfire rang out, authorities said.
Bryant sped away, apparently heading for the house on Poplar Boulevard where he had lived the past seven months.
"He didn't even get a chance to make it home," said his sister, Lynnetta Bryant.
Four minutes after he had been shot, Bryant crashed. He was taken to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Bryant was born on Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield and moved to Sacramento nine years ago. He was a welder and an auto mechanic, and his children range in age from 4 to 12 years old.
"He was a good father, the best father he could possibly be," said his mother, Glenda Bryant.
Bryant hadn't mentioned feeling threatened or having any enemies, his family said.
The suspects in the shooting were described as two men between the ages of 21 and 30 who were bald and wearing red shirts and dark pants. Two vehicles were seen leaving the area soon after the shooting: a black car, possibly an Acura, and a red, older-model Dodge Charger.
Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward.