The shooting that left one man dead and six wounded – including a 7-year-old girl – during a birthday party at a Natomas park involved gunfire between two groups, a Sacramento police spokeswoman said Sunday.
“The suspects fired at a specific group in the party, and subjects from the party shot back at the suspects,” Officer Michele Gigante said.
Around 5 p.m. Saturday, a vehicle pulled up on the east side of Peregrine Park, where a birthday party was being held, officials said. Police estimated that there were about 30 children and 20 to 30 adults at the party.
The shooters got out of the vehicle and opened fire, Gigante said. The shooters fled in the vehicle after people returned fire, Gigante said. It was not known if any of the people who fled were hit.
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Police did not say how many people initially opened fire or how many people shot back. Police were investigating the shooting as gang-related.
“It doesn’t seem to be random,” Gigante said, adding that the gunmen went to that specific group and “confronted them.”
Although the Sacramento County coroner’s office did not release the name of the man killed Saturday, a cousin identified him as Jacoby James, 28, of Sacramento.
“He was a loving father,” said Tiffany James, 24, of Sacramento, who visited the park Sunday. “He has a 6-year-old son.”
Jacoby James had taken his son to Peregrine Park on Saturday.
“It was his friend’s son’s birthday,” said the cousin. “He wanted to show his support for his friend.”
Tiffany James said Jacoby James was a clothing designer who sold his T-shirt creations online. He was a devoted family man, especially to his son, who is named after him, she said.
“Everything he did was about his son,” said Tiffany James. “He put his son before everything.”
The oldest of four children, Jacoby James always took care of people and appreciated family members, his cousin said. On Sunday, he would have celebrated Mother’s Day with his girlfriend, his mother and his aunts by treating them to a meal, she said.
Tiffany James said she did not believe that her cousin was the intended target.
“I don’t think it (the shooting) was meant for him,” she said. “He was very humble, and he just lived with his family.”
On Sunday, yellow police tape was still up around the playground and picnic area of Peregrine Park. Police cars blocked entry to several streets next to the park.
Small red flags marked where the bullet casings were found, and investigators were still there in the early afternoon.
The shooting scared neighbors, who said people often use the park.
“This is the first time anything like this has happened,” said Balraj Singh, 31, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years.
He was at work at the time of the shooting, but his wife and 5-year-old daughter were home. They didn’t know that anything was amiss until they heard the police sirens.
Singh said he grew up playing volleyball in the park and that his family visited frequently.
“It’s usually very peaceful, and the park is packed on the weekends,” he said. “Now we don’t feel safe to take our kid over there anymore.”
Police said they are looking for multiple shooters.
Investigators declined to release a description of the vehicle they used, but officials said residential security cameras may have captured the vehicle and are asking neighbors to contact police.
Anyone who has information can call Sacramento police’s dispatch center at (916) 264-5471 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP (4357) or text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter SACTIP, followed by the information.