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Suspect identified in Ridgecrest shooting rampage

October 25, 2013|By Richard Winton
  • Helicopters and police vehicles block U.S. 395 in Central California south of Ridgecrest where officers killed a gunman after an hourlong chase. Two wounded people were found in the trunk of the fleeing car.
Helicopters and police vehicles block U.S. 395 in Central California south… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Authorities late Friday identified the suspect in the shooting rampage in Ridgecrest as Sergio Munoz, 39.

According to Kern County records, Munoz is a convicted felon with a criminal record dating to at least 1999. He had been charged 21 times and served two years in prison for receiving stolen property.

His crimes included drug possession for sale, child endangerment, receiving stolen property and domestic violence.

In May, Munoz was arrested for possessing ammunition as a felon, but the charge was dismissed. He was arrested Sunday and charged with possessing controlled substance paraphernalia and possessing ammunition as a felon.

The series of events Friday began at 5:15 a.m. inside a home in the 500 block of West Atkins Avenue in Ridgecrest, where police officers responded to reports of gunfire.

The officers discovered two victims inside. A man, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was airlifted to an area hospital. The second victim, a woman, was pronounced dead at the scene. She was the city's second homicide this year.

Munoz called police about two hours after the shooting, saying he wanted to kill all Ridgecrest police officers, but they had too many guns, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

Munoz said he had a package for police and was going to “wreak havoc,” Youngblood said.

Two hours later, a deputy spotted the suspect's Dodge sedan. The deputy attempted to pull the vehicle over, but the driver refused and a pursuit began.

As the man drove south on U.S. 395, he fired a shotgun and handgun 10 to 12 times at oncoming traffic and forced several vehicles off the road, Youngblood said.

At one point, the vehicle pulled over and the trunk opened, Youngblood said. Officers saw two people -- a man and a woman -- in the trunk, the sheriff said, which "changed the entire dynamic" of the pursuit.

Several miles later, roughly eight miles north of California 58, the man pulled over again and began firing through the backseat of the vehicle into the trunk, Youngblood said.

Seven law enforcement officers -- with the Sheriff's Department, Ridgecrest police and California Highway Patrol -- opened fire, Youngblood said, and Munoz was shot and killed.

The people inside the trunk had gunshot wounds, though it was not clear when they sustained the injuries, sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said. Both were airlifted to an area hospital.

Authorities said late Friday that all three shooting victims are "likely to survive."


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