Police Chase Gunman Across Mojave Desert

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While authorities were investigating a fatal shooting in Ridgecrest, California, they received a call from Sergio Alberto Munoz, the killer. Munoz told police that he'd wanted to deliver a "package" to them, and also murder them, but also that he didn't want to be outgunned at the police station, and would instead "wreak havoc" elsewhere.

The call ignited an hour-long chase of Munoz through the Mojave Desert on Friday. Munoz, with two hostages in his trunk, sped along a 30-mile stretch of desert highway, while taking shots at other motorists, and trying to run other cars off the road. When police finally caught up with Munoz, 39, killing him in a hail of gunfire, the question remained why the career criminal had snapped.

Ridgecrest is a quiet town in Kern County, California, adjacent to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS, or China Lake). The population was 27,616 and the town is largely "company" oriented, in regards to China Lake. Ridgecrest Mayor Dan Clark called the Munoz incident disturbing, especially since the small city is relatively crime free.

Munoz, a reputed heroin dealer with a rap sheet going back at least 20 years, began his rampage at about 5 a.m. Friday morning, at the home of Thaddeus Meier. Meier's sister Dawn told police that her brother said Munoz was a good guy, and just needed a little help. Dawn added that Munoz had been dealing and using black tar heroin during his 2-week stay at her brother's place.

Dawn's boyfriend Derrick Holland added that he'd heard Munoz on Thursday complaining in the yard about how drugs had destroyed his life, and that he'd lost everything. Ridgecrest police added that Munoz had also recently lost his job. Munoz told Meier that he'd planned to "reduce all of the snitches in town," and Meier refused to participate. So Munoz shot him twice, and murdered his girlfriend.

Munoz then made his threatening call to the police, and took off. Roughly 2 hours later, a sheriff's deputy spotted him, and got into the pursuit on U.S. 395. Munoz shot at other motorists at least ten times with a handgun and a shotgun, though no one was hurt. At one point, Munoz pulled over and the trunk popped open, revealing his two hostages. The hostages quickly closed it, and the chase continued.

Munoz pulled over once more, turned and began to fire into the trunk, and up to seven police officers starting shooting, killing the man. The hostages were airlifted from the scene in critical condition, but are likely to survive.

Image via YouTube.

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