A wanted suspect in the shooting death of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez on Jan. 19 turned himself into Fresno police shortly before noon Wednesday but was released, said Lt. Mark Salazar.
Salazar said Donte Hawkins, 21, was wanted on suspicion of murder. But after further investigation by detectives Wednesday afternoon, Hawkins was released. Detectives concluded they needed more evidence to support an arrest, Salazar said. The case remains under investigation.
Police said Janessa was caught in the crossfire of a gang dispute in the area of Clinton and Marks avenues, west of Highway 99. She was struck by a stray round while standing in front of a laundromat with her mother.
Hawkins’ lawyer, Miles A. Harris, said Hawkins turned himself in to police because he “wanted to do the right thing” and that there has been a lot a “misinformation about the entire incident.” Harris said police found many “inconsistencies” on Wednesday afternoon.
On Jan. 30, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer announced the arrest of three other suspects in the case: Brian Lorrice Cooks, 22, Isaac Kordell Stafford, 19, and Devonta Murphy, 22.
Eric Green, the lawyer for Stafford, previously said he was told Hawkins was one of “two or three” others in the Dodge Challenger driven by Stafford at the time of the Jan. 19 shooting.
Stafford was released from Fresno County Jail on Feb. 3 after the district attorney’s office asked police for further investigation in the case. Green said Stafford was shot at but didn’t have a gun and didn’t shoot at anyone.
Police said Murphy was arrested in possession of the gun allegedly used by Cooks in the fatal shooting.