Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

October 26, 2013

Suspect slain in Mojave Desert shootout

RIDGECREST, Calif. — A gunman fatally shot a woman, injured a man and then led police on a wild chase through the Mojave Desert with two hostages in his trunk on Friday before he was killed in a shootout with police.

Sergio Munoz, 39, who has a lengthy criminal record dating back at least two decades, began his rampage before dawn when he called an officer on his cellphone, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a press conference. Munoz said he wanted to deliver a package to police and kill officers but, because he would be outgunned, he would “wreak havoc” elsewhere.

Police now believe the “package” was the hostages, Youngblood said.

Nearly two hours later, a sheriff’s deputy spotted Munoz’s car and a pursuit began over roughly 30 miles of highway, through arid stretches of desert about 150 miles north of Los Angeles. He ran traffic off the road, firing at least 10 times at passing vehicles with a shotgun and a handgun. No motorists were hurt, Youngblood said.

At one point during the chase, which lasted more than 40 minutes, Munoz pulled over and the car’s trunk popped open, revealing a man and woman inside. They appeared to shut the trunk, the sheriff said. Munoz then got back in the car and continued driving.

At some point, Munoz told pursuing officers, “’I’m going to shoot them,”’ Youngblood said.

In the end, Munoz pulled over again on U.S. 395, turned in his seat and began shooting into the trunk. As many as seven officers opened fire and killed the man.

The hostages were flown to a hospital and were listed in critical condition and expected to survive.

Authorities didn’t know what triggered the rampage, but the sister of the man wounded in the initial shooting said Munoz was a heroin dealer that had been staying at her brother’s house for about two weeks.

Dawn Meier told The Associated Press her brother, Thaddeus Meier, had been using black tar heroin with Munoz.

She had moved out of the house a week ago to join her boyfriend, Derrick Holland, after he insisted she get her 7-month-old son away from the drug-related traffic.

On Thursday, Holland heard Munoz complaining in the yard about how his life was falling apart and he was losing everything due to drugs.

Police said Munoz had lost his job recently.

Munoz showed up Friday morning and told Thaddeus Meier, “We’re going to reduce all of the snitches in town.”

When her brother declined, Munoz shot him multiple times, along with his girlfriend, who died. Her brother was recovering at a hospital.

Munoz is a convicted felon with crime dating back to 1994 when he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for receiving stolen property.

In May, he was arrested for possessing ammunition as a felon, but the felony charge was dismissed. Munoz was most recently arrested Sunday for investigation of possessing controlled substance paraphernalia and a felony charge of possessing ammunition as a felon.

There was some information that Munoz was using Facebook during the pursuit, but it wasn’t immediately clear what the postings were, Youngblood said. Investigators recovered the shotgun and a handgun.

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. Youngblood said the highway would likely be closed into the night while the investigation continued.

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

The city of about 27,000 people is adjacent to the vast Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, which sprawls over more than 1,700 square miles of desert. U.S. 395 runs through the western Mojave, below the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada.

Ridgecrest Mayor Dan Clark called the incident disturbing, especially because the small city is relatively crime free.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Johnson family files second suit against school system

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson's parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bears spotted on Baytree Road

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 29, 2014

  • photo.JPG Dump truck suspects apprehended

    LCSO has apprehended both of the suspects believed to be connected with the theft of a dump truck in Macon on Monday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results