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Man charged in Salt Lake City gang-related killing

Published September 11, 2013 7:41 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Taylorsville man who was originally arrested as an accomplice to a Salt Lake City shooting in August has now been charged as the one who fired the bullet that killed a rival gang member.

Donald Orlando Valdez, 31, was charged Tuesday with killing 28-year-old David Gonzales on the morning of Aug. 31. Prosecutors say the shooting happened after Valdez and his relative, Nicholas Valdez, 27, got into a brawl during a house party at 970 S. 300 West.

Witnesses told police that Donald and Nicholas Valdez were at the party flashing hand signs associated with the gang Varrio Loco Town. Eventually Nicholas Valdez got into a fist fight with Gonzales, who was a member the 21st Street gang, a VLT rival.

The fight moved outside at about 6:55 a.m., where Nicholas Valdez allegedly pulled out a silver handgun and fired two rounds. A fragment struck one of the bystanders at the party, according to court documents.

Video surveillance from a restaurant nearby allegedly showed Nicholas Valdez firing the handgun into the air and into the sidewalk. Originally, Nicholas Valdez was arrested on suspicion of Gonzales' murder, but court documents reveal evidence that prosecutors believe tie Donald Valdez to the killing.

Police arrived at the scene shortly after the shots were fired and reportedly found Donald Valdez running in the parking lot of a nearby Target store with dried blood on his hand. Gonzales' body was found in front of the house on 300 West with a gunshot wound to his head.

Police believe it was Donald Valdez who killed Gonzales because the shell casings next to Gonzales' body matched those from a Glock pistol, which was hidden — along with some of Donald Valdez' clothes — in an alley near the scene.

Cellphone pictures from the party allegedly showed Donald Valdez wearing those same clothes, along with a rosary necklace that was found broken next to Gonzales' body.

Donald Valdez was charged with first-degree murder and second-degree felony counts of obstructing justice and use of a firearm by a restricted person. In 2005, he was convicted of felony aggravated assault, making him ineligible to own a gun.

Nicholas Valdez was charged with two felony counts of discharging a firearm — one second-degree and the other third-degree — and one third-degree felony count of obstructing justice.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion