MOSES LAKE — Attempted murder charges have been filed against a Warden man who is suspected to have shot another man at a Moses Lake park almost a year ago.
When Zachary Skone of Warden was initially charged in Grant County Superior Court in January he was facing counts of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery. Prosecutors have filed additional charges of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm against the defendant. He is currently being held at the Grant County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The charges relate to a January shooting at Montlake Park in Moses Lake. The victim in the shooting, an 18-year-old male, was reportedly at the park to sell Skone and Gabriel Ruiz Balderas, who was 17 at the time, a bottle of prescription cough syrup.
The victim’s girlfriend told a Moses Lake police detective when they arrived at the park there was a white, single-cab pickup truck in the parking lot. The victim allegedly got out to contact Ruiz Balderas, at which time his girlfriend claims “someone came out of the bushes and shot multiple times,” reads court documents.
After the shooting, according to the witness, Ruiz Balderas and “the shooter” got into the white pickup and took off. The victim said he wasn’t sure who shot him and his girlfriend reportedly told police he had borrowed money from people in the past and failed to pay it back. That insight was repeated by Skone after he was arrested, as he reportedly said the victim is known for not paying people and Ruiz Balderas was going to give him “what he had coming to him.”
Skone was taken into custody during a traffic stop the day after the shooting. He claimed on the day of the incident he went out of town with his family and they got back between 9 and 9:30 p.m. that night. The story differed from one given to police by one of his family members, who said they returned at 6 p.m. that night and Skone left after they got back to take the white truck to a friend’s house in Moses Lake.
In another interview with police Skone’s story changed. He claimed he took the truck to Moses Lake to visit a friend. Investigators confronted him with a screenshot from the victim’s phone, which allegedly shows a message from Ruiz Balderas that “showed a picture of the dashboard of Skone’s truck in the area of the shooting. The context was a conversation about (the victim) selling (Ruiz Balderas) a bottle of prescription codeine cough syrup.”
GPS coordinates from Skone’s cell phone reportedly show he was at the park around the time of the shooting. He claimed he left his phone in the white truck, which, he said, was borrowed by Ruiz Balderas. He later admitted to being at Montlake and claimed he shot the victim once and Ruiz Balderas took the revolver from him and shot the victim several times.
Ruiz Balderas was taken into custody a few days after the shooting and charged as an adult with first-degree assault and first-degree robbery. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can still be re-filed at another time, in March due to, according to the prosecution, evidentiary issues. When he was first arrested and charged the teen’s bail was set at $250,000, as the prosecution believed he was a risk to commit a violent offense.