Crime - Sacto 911

Fair Oaks homicide suspect tried to ‘test out’ bulletproof vest, victim’s family says

Elijah Ray Lambert, 21, was arrested on suspicion of homicide.
Elijah Ray Lambert, 21, was arrested on suspicion of homicide. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department

Miguel Martinez, 19, was hanging out with his friends last week in a Fair Oaks park when one of his companions fatally shot him, hoping to test out the reliability of a bulletproof vest, the victim’s brother said Tuesday.

Thomas Cline said that Martinez, his brother, was wearing a bulletproof vest when suspect Elijah Ray Lambert, 21, pulled the trigger.

Elijah allegedly told Martinez, “Don’t worry bro,” before shooting him, according to Cline, who learned of the story from an eyewitness.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on that account Tuesday, citing the ongoing investigation.

The incident occurred about 9:46 p.m. Friday near the river access and bike trail area outside of Bannister Park in Fair Oaks. Witnesses first told deputies that the victim had been robbed by unknown people, an allegation that turned out to be false, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman called the case an “unintentional killing,” but noted that the shooting was “intentional.”

“We do not believe the suspect intended to kill the victim, but that was a consequence of his actions,” Bowman said, adding that no motive has been identified.

Lambert faces a charge of homicide and will be arraigned Wednesday. He is being held at the Sacramento County Main Jail without the possibility of bail and declined to be interviewed by a reporter on Tuesday.

Sacramento Superior Court records show Lambert is facing trial this summer on separate charges of robbery and illegal possession of a firearm. The charges indicate he had a prior record as a juvenile and is prohibited from owning a gun until age 30.

On Tuesday, Martinez was remembered as a “very loving and funny kid” by his family.

“My little brother was too young to die,” Cline said. “He didn’t deserve to die.”

Richard Chang: (916) 321-1018, @RichardYChang. Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee