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Anaheim man said he was a victim when his friend was shot; police believe he’s the killer

A mug shot of Zachary Pickrell.
Zachary Pickrell is accused of the murder of 17-year-old Danilo Ashton Arauz.
(Anaheim Police Department)

An Anaheim man who allegedly pretended he also was a victim of a drive-by shooting in which his 17-year-old friend was fatally shot over the weekend has now been arrested and charged in connection with the crime, police said.

Zachary Pickrell, 18, told Anaheim police he managed to avoid being shot during a drive-by shooting Sunday evening in the 1700 block of Holbrook Street but his friend Danilo Ashton Arauz was gunned down by the unknown assailant, police said.

Paramedics rushed the wounded Arauz to a nearby hospital, authorities said.

But Anaheim homicide detectives later determined that there had been no drive-by shooting and that Pickrell allegedly shot the teenager, police said.

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Since the victim was still on life support at the time, Pickrell was initially booked into the Anaheim Detention Facility on suspicion of attempted murder. He has since been transferred to Orange County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $1 million.

Pickrell was charged earlier this week with attempted murder and an enhancement charge of attempted premeditated murder and personal use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Two law enforcement sources, not authorized to discuss the case, told The Times that Pickrell had an ongoing disagreement with the victim and had planned to shoot him.

On Wednesday evening, Arauz was taken off life support while surrounded by friends and family shortly before 9 p.m. at Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, police said.

Pickrell’s initial charge of attempted murder will be amended to murder possibly as early as Friday, authorities said.

“He always lived with passion and excitement, Ashton was the happiest kid,” the Arauz family wrote on a GoFundMe page, which has been set up to pay for funeral expenses. “He had some crazy curly hair, which matched his goofy personality. He is unlike anyone else, and will forever be missed and loved.”

Blake Goldstein, his brother, also shared a separate message on social media.

“Ashton, you are unlike anybody I’ve ever met. Kind, strong, smart, gentle, goofy, way cooler than me, full of joy and showed your love for us in a very special way,” Goldstein wrote. “Our hearts [are] shattered, but we will find comfort in our memories and knowing we have an angel watching over us.”


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