Man Allegedly Kills Roommate After Twitter Account with His Name Posts About Buying Gun, Needing Ammo

The man's attorney tells PEOPLE he expects the evidence will show the incident was self-defense

Photo: Gilbert Police Department

An Arizona man has been arrested for second-degree murder after police allege he shot and killed his roommate – days after possibly posting about his frustrations online, PEOPLE has confirmed.

Zachary Penton, 21, was arrested Sunday morning after Gilbert, Arizona, police say he allegedly confessed to them that he killed his roommate, 41-year-old Daniel Garofalo, earlier that day.

His defense attorney tells PEOPLE that Penton will plead not guilty and that he believes the investigation will show his client acted in self-defense.

One day before the shooting, a Twitter account with Penton’s name and photo posted, “I need to move out of my place before I viciously murder my roommates.”

(The tweet has been deleted since Penton’s arrest.)

The account tweeted in June about buying a weapon, writing, “Holy [expletive] buying a gun is so easy.” The account also tweeted last year about apparently owning a knife for self-defense.

And on Aug. 16, the account tweeted: “I need 2 boxes of 9mm stat.”

Penton allegedly explained Sunday’s shooting as a case of self-defense, according to the Arizona Republic, citing court documents.

Police confirmed the homicide investigation to PEOPLE, saying in a statement that Penton told them the shooting came “during some type of altercation at the residence.”

Police say they are aware of the Twitter posts and “are looking into whether this was our suspect’s Twitter account or not.”

Penton said he’d moved into Garofalo’s residence two months ago and did not know him before that, according to the Republic, which adds that according to court documents, Penton “said Garofalo earlier had scared him by speaking irrationally about black holes and alternate universes.”

Penton also told police he’d worked for several years at QuikTrip, according to the Republic – which the Twitter account apparently made reference to earlier this month, writing, “Qt pays me too much dude it is crazy.”

The Republic reports, citing court documents, that on the day of the shooting “Penton said Garofalo entered his bedroom and told Penton he was going to kill him if Penton did not move out of the house. Penton said he was tackled to his bed and Garofalo took his phone. Penton said he got to his feet and tried to walk away.”

At that point, according to the Republic, Penton said Garofalo “was still grabbing him” – so he allegedly “grabbed his Glock from under his pillow, then shot Garofalo twice while they were standing next to the bed.”

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Garofalo was pronounced dead at the scene and Penton was arrested, according to the police statement. He remains in custody on a $750,000 bond, according to jail records.

Gilbert police declined to comment further on the case. PEOPLE could not immediately reach Garafolo’s family for comment.

Penton is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 29, according to jail records.

Defense Attorney: Evidence Will Likely Show It Was Self-Defense

Penton’s attorney, Joshua Davidson, tells PEOPLE his client will plead not guilty to the charge against him and that “this is absolutely not a case of a calculated or pre-planned shooting.”

Davidson says the defense is in the process of its investigation into what happened, and as such he declined comment on many specific parts of the case, such as the alleged altercation with the victim.

But he expects it to come to light that Penton was acting in self-defense in the incident and that the public will view this case differently when all the information is available.

Of the question about why Penton didn’t move out of the residence if his roommate, the victim, was unstable, Davidson says he doesn’t want to “Monday morning quarterback” the case without knowing everything.

He declined to comment on whether or not the Twitter account was in fact Penton’s – and he declined to comment on the deletion of some of the tweets. But Davidson says of the posts, “It strains the imagination to believe they were intended in the literal sense.”

“In my experience,” he says, “people don’t publicly announce their intent to commit a crime.”

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