Exclusive: Friendship Ends in Gunfire in Palm Springs

Exclusive: Friendship Ends in Gunfire in Palm Springs

KMIR

We’re learning new information about a fight that ended in gunfire in Palm Springs last week.

August 29th, we were there live as Palm Springs police investigated the fight, and what they said was a honey oil lab found at the home.

We have an exclusive interview with the family of the man who was arrested.

We spoke with both men involved in the fight last week.
They were friends for five years.
An argument over money ultimately escalated into fight in a Palm Springs front yard.

Let’s hear what they had to say:

"I grabbed his throat and I pushed him against his Jeep and I start smashing his head with a gun," said Shawn Ziegler, who lives in Palm Springs.

His former friend, Robert Gray, said "My glasses just got covered in blood, and I was just pouring out blood and couldn’t hear anything."

One of those men is facing charges after a fight in his front yard.
A fight that spiraled out of control when a gun was fired.
A fight with a friend.

"We’ve been really good friends, yeah for sure, for five years, and I usually see him at least once a week," said Shawn.

"When I make dinner, I make extra for him because we know he just stops by randomly," said Shawn’s wife, Jatonia Ziegler.

Robert said, "My world is upside down, like they were extremely close friends of mine."

So what happened?
Well, the men say they were going to meet about money.
Shawn Ziegler says he loaned Robert Gray cash for a vehicle a year ago.
Shawn needed the money last Monday, but their plan to meet fell through.
It’s a he said – he said about who showed up where.

"I told him hey pretty much if you don’t have my money, don’t come by anymore," said Shawn.

Robert’s dog and his tools were at Shawn’s house.
He drove there a couple hours later.

"I drive right around his daughter’s car onto his front yard and park my vehicle, my Jeep right next to my tool box, he kicked my toolbox over, I grabbed my crowbar out of my toolbox and I walked over and I said we need to stop this right now, you need to let me grab my stuff and go about our lives," said Robert.

Shawn said, "He runs into my leg with his rock-crawling bar."

However Robert said, "I never struck him, I never put him in any harm’s kind of way."

"He just barely tags me, but the second time he hits me in the head and almost drops me on the ground, luckily I’m able to reach for my firearm right there, I’m probably five feet in my door at that point," says Shawn.

"Must have had his firearm right at the front door, and he walked out of his front door shooting at the ground in my vicinity," says Robert.

Shawn said, "At that point I realized I can’t shoot him, there’s a little girl right across the street, I can’t shoot her, I can’t have a bullet go anywhere, so I have to shoot at the ground, I can’t do anything. I close the door, we start fighting outside."

"He put his left hand around my throat and hit me across the head with his right hand and the gun in his hand, and the gun went off, right away, and when the gun went off, I went deaf and couldn’t believe it," said Robert. 

Robert ran, and got in a passerby’s vehicle.
The police arrived, and Shawn was arrested.

Shawn’s wife, Jatonia, showed us text messages Robert was sending her about their argument before he arrived at the house and the fight began.

"I received a message from Robert saying I’m going to make sure Shawn is in jail and I wreck your guy’s lives," said Jatonia.

Robert said, "She called me back and she said if you bring the cops to my house, I will kill you, I will hunt you down and kill you myself Robert, do not bring the cops to my house and do not wreck my family. And at that point I was driving and I texted her right back, and I was like at that point, look I’m ready to die for my things right now."

"I’m not afraid to die right now, Shawn is right, I don’t have anyone or anything. Just quit so I can go handle this, you should tell Madison to leave right now," Jatonia read from a text message. 

Madison is their 20-year-old daughter, who was at the house and called 9-1-1.

"I was paying attention to what the 9-1-1 operator was saying so I wasn’t really watching the whole scene, what was going down, but I saw Robert hit my dad in the back and head," said Madison Ziegler.

Robert said, "I’m a big, strong guy, I work a lot, and the prybar is big and heavy and metal, it would be fairly evident mark, and that’s exactly what police said at the hospital that they didn’t believe his story."

Police said in the press release that a witness saw Shawn strike himself in the head with a metal object after Robert left.

Shawn responded to that with, "I think I’ve got to make sure my blood is on this crowbar, I have to, because no one’s going ot believe me, because I don’t believe me, I don’t even believe what just happened. This is insane. I put the crowbar on my head, I put a little blood on it."

Palm Springs police charged Shawn with felony assault, and they have also filed a drugs charge for a honey oil lab they say they found at the home which is oil made by marijuana extraction. 
Shawn says the equipment is from his air conditioning repair job.

So who is at fault, or do both parties share some blame?
We can’t say.
The police only arrested Shawn.
They both have attorneys.
In the end, it may be a jury, who decides what went wrong, and and who is to blame in this friendship that ended in gunfire.