Westminster Police ID Person of Interest in Fatal Shooting

WESTMINSTER (CNS) – Westminster police Wednesday identified a “person of interest” wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of a Huntington Beach man on Sunday.

Police were looking for Donald Nichols in connection with the shooting of 41-year-old Donald Joshua Ratzlaff of Huntington Beach. Nichols is not considered a suspect, but police want to talk to him to see what he knows about the killing, according to Commander Kevin MacCormick of the Westminster Police Department.

Nichols is 5-foot-11 and weighs about 220 pounds and has hazel eyes and brown hair. Anyone who knows where he is was asked to call detectives at 714-548-3773 or 714-548-3759, or email mlopez@westminster-ca.gov or mpierson@westminster-ca.gov. Or the watch commander can be reached at 714-548- 3767 and Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at 855-TIP- OCCS.

Police were dispatched at 4:10 a.m. Sunday to an apartment complex in the 15200 block of Magnolia Street on a report of shots fired, according to MacCormick. When officers arrived they didn’t see anything, so they cleared the call, MacCormick said.

About 20 minutes later, Fountain Valley police responded to a report of a gunshot victim in a white van at an Arco gas station at 10975 Edinger Ave., MacCormick said. Ratzlaff’s body was found in the van and the driver ran off before officers arrived.

When Fountain Valley asked neighboring Westminster police if they had any calls of shots fired, investigators connected the dots. MacCormick said an argument was heard prior to the gunshots ringing out in Westminster and a white van was spotted leaving the scene.

Ratzlaff had a lengthy criminal history, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in November 2019 to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, attempted solicitation to commit a crime and admitted a sentencing enhancement for gang activity and was sentenced to five years in prison, according to court records.

He was facing misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. In a probation violation petition in 2017, authorities said he had a criminal history dating back to 1997 that included petty theft, burglary, possession of stolen property and stolen vehicles and car theft.

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