Janessa Ramirez murder suspect arrested for attempted murder

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Just a month after he was arrested and released in connection with the murder of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez, a Fresno man is back in custody. (KFSN)

Just a month after he was arrested and released in connection with the murder of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez, a Fresno man is back in custody -- this time, accused of trying to kill a college basketball player.

"As detectives started looking into it, they found Donte Hawkins was involved in it and Donte Hawkins was also involved in the Janessa murder," said Fresno police Lt. Mark Salazar.

Police say Hawkins was on the run from them for a month, before surrendering in February. In January, Janessa Ramirez was shot and killed in gang crossfire. And in our exclusive stories, Action News revealed search warrants indicating Hawkins was one of the shooters.

Prosecutors have never charged Donte Hawkins with any crime related to the Janessa shooting, so even though police found him, they had to let him go.

But he's in jail now for a shooting that happened not long after his release. The late-night shooting last month resembled many Fresno police have seen before; one man shot in the neck, at least one suspect on the run.

But as detectives dug deeper, they found details that resembled one in particular. The one that killed an innocent 9-year-old near a Fresno laundromat.

"We know at least one shooter, maybe two," Salazar said. "We know Donte Hawkins was very instrumental in this robbery and shooting."

Action News dug up court documents in which witnesses named Hawkins as the first to shoot in the gang gunfire that ended with the death of Janessa Ramirez. Brian Cooks is charged with her murder after admitting to firing the deadly shot. But he told investigators he was shooting back after Hawkins opened fire at him.

Hawkins disappeared for a month afterwards before turning himself in at police headquarters. He walked away without going to jail.

A month later, witnesses say Hawkins had a gun again. This time, the target was a Cal-State Bakersfield basketball player. Police tracked down two other suspects, then lured Hawkins back to a family home in Southwest Fresno.

"It was good because no doubt that he would've been on the run and we had a hard time finding him the first time - people hiding him, him going out of town so it was good work by the detectives to get him to the scene," Salazar said.

Hawkins could face life in prison if he's convicted of this crime. And police tell us his arrest could also put a significant dent in criminal activity by a gang in which he had heavy influence.

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