ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Case # 14CF2681
Date: October 14, 2016
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Garden Grove man was sentenced today to 114 years in state prison for shooting into a vehicle which killed a man and injured two women. Dustin Sean Ross McDonald, 25, was found guilty by a jury on June 14, 2016, of one felony count of first degree murder, two felony counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death or great bodily injury.
On Aug. 12, 2014, McDonald arranged to meet with the three victims in Santa Ana for what they thought would be a drug transaction. At approximately 11:30 p.m. that night, the defendant drove up to the victim’s vehicle, just north of the Orange County School of the Arts, in the area of East 12th Street and Main Street, stepped out of his vehicle, and walked around to the front passenger side of the victims’ vehicle while armed with a firearm. The defendant fired approximately 10 shots at the victims, murdering the front passenger, 23-year-old Aaron Chavez. McDonald wounded both the 21-year-old female driver of the vehicle, Ashlee Caldwell, and the 28-year-old female passenger, Ingrid Gonzalez.
The Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) responded to the scene and investigated this case. McDonald was arrested by SAPD the next day.
At the sentencing today, Chavez’s family spoke about the effect his loss has had on them in an impact statement to the court. They said he was a kind, compassionate, intelligent man who had a passion for making music.
Ashlee Caldwell, one of the women injured by McDonald, also delivered a victim impact statement. Ashlee stated in part, “It replays over in my head and it never gets easier. I saw Aaron get shot right in front of my eyes. I saw him die. The last image I have of him is one I wish was never burned into my memory.” She also stated that, “the most terrifying realization is that you’re about to die. Pretending you’re dead just so he will stop shooting, but that didn’t happen. Round after round penetrating my body, I was numb. To this day I still don’t have complete feeling in my right thigh or my index finger. Some of the numbness went away and some of it will last a lifetime.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff
Roxi Fyad, Spokesperson