California News

Ridgecrest chase, shooting rampage: Suspect identified

Friday, October 25, 2013
Sergio Alberto Munzo is seen in this undated photo. A Kern County homicide suspect was killed by police after he led cops on a chase with two hostages in his trunk.

A homicide suspect in Kern County was killed in a police shootout after he led officers on a chase while holding two hostages in the trunk of his car.

It all began at about 5 a.m. Friday in the city of Ridgecrest, where authorities received a report of an assault with a deadly weapon. That investigation turned out to be a homicide. A woman was found dead and a man was found wounded.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the homicide suspect called the Ridgecrest Police Department and said he wanted to go to the department and shoot officers. However, the suspect said officers had too many guns, so he would "wreak havoc" elsewhere.

Nearly two hours after that phone call, a sheriff's deputy spotted the suspect's black Dodge Dart and a chase ensued. During the chase, which spanned about 40 miles heading southbound on U.S. 395, the suspect fired his gun at least 10 times and tried to run vehicles off the road. Youngblood said no motorists were hurt.

During the pursuit, Youngblood said the suspect pulled over twice. The first time, the suspect's trunk popped open, revealing two hostages inside - a man and a woman. Youngblood said it's unclear if the suspect opened the trunk or if the victims were able to pop the lid open from inside the trunk. The hostages appeared to shut the trunk and the suspect took off on the road again.

Sometime later, the suspect pulled over a second time. He turned around from the driver's seat and fired into the trunk. That's when at least seven officers opened fire on the suspect, killing him. The shootout took place about 8 miles north of Kramer Junction. No officers were hurt.

The two victims were flown to Antelope Valley Hospital. Their conditions were unknown, but authorities confirmed with Eyewitness News that the victims are expected to survive, and they were shot by the suspect.

Youngblood said the suspect knew the deceased woman and injured man at the original crime scene in Ridgecrest, as well as the two hostages in the trunk. Their exact relationships remain unclear.

Ridgecrest Police identified the suspect as Sergio Alberto Munoz, a 39-year-old Ridgecrest resident. The female victim who died was identified as 22-year-old Brittany Matheny of Ridgecrest.

There was some information that the suspect was using Facebook during the pursuit, but it wasn't immediately clear what the postings were, Youngblood said.

A crime scene was set up along U.S. 395 at Kramer Junction, where two police helicopters landed amid numerous law enforcement vehicles. The CHP said the highway was closed from Kramer Junction for 10 miles north because of the investigation.

Schools in Ridgecrest were placed on lockdown as a precaution but have since reopened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
officer-involved shooting, car chase, homicide investigation, pursuit, california highway patrol, california news
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