Police wrapping up murder investigation
News Review Staff Writer
The examination of events surrounding a murder that left both a young woman and her suspected shooter dead is in the final stages, as Ridgecrest Police Department expects this week to turn over findings to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the high-speed chase and shooting of the suspect.
In the early morning of Friday, Oct. 25, Thaddeus Meier called 9-1-1 to report that he and his girlfriend, Brittany Metheney, had been shot. Metheney was reportedly found dead on arrival.
The suspected killer, identified as 39-year-old Sergio Munoz, allegedly drove around for about two hours looking for another unidentified suspect. Two hostages, identified this week as 24-year-old Matthew Guidangen and 23-year-old Amanda Garcia, were reportedly held in the trunk of Munoz’ vehicle while he drove through the streets of Ridgecrest while firing his gun and throwing objects from his vehicle.
By this point Munoz had allegedly called in threats to an individual officer. His actions were also reported via 9-1-1 by several citizens, as well as unofficially documented via his own status updates on Facebook.
Shortly before 8 a.m. local schools and the hospital had been placed on lockdown, and officers from multiple agencies were pursuing Munoz as he fled south on 395. Reports indicate that officers did not open fire on the suspect until he had exited his vehicle because of the concern that the hostages would be hit in the crossfire.
According to official reports, officers fired simultaneously on Munoz as soon as they had a clear shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Meier, Guidangen and Garcia are all reportedly in stable condition.
Last week police and other sources reported that Munoz, who was out on bail for charges related to felony possession of ammunition and drug paraphernalia, approached Meier with a plan to “eliminate snitches.” When Meier refused to be a party, Munoz reportedly shot him and Metheney.
A spokesperson of Searles Valley Minerals, where Munoz was employed, dispelled earlier reports that Munoz had failed a drug test and been fired.
“We don’t know what set him off,” said Sgt. Jed McLaughlin of RPD, who is leading the investigation of the murder. “What we have gathered from all of the people we’ve talked to, though, indicates that there was a breakup in his family — the kids and their mom had left him — and we know he was arrested just a week prior. I think his whole world was just falling apart. Why he went to this extreme, I guess we’ll never know.”
Although some witnesses have reported that Munoz was under the influence of drugs during the attack, the Kern County Coroner’s Office has not yet released those findings.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office placed the officers involved in shooting Munoz on administrative leave pending the findings of an investigation of that event. A spokesperson of KCSO said that those any conclusions from that investigation will be made public.
See also related story, this page.Story First Published: 2013-11-06