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By Theo Douglas/ The Californian
By CALIFORNIAN STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
RIDGECREST -- A gunshot victim told police dispatchers to "help me" as his girlfriend was dying nearby at the beginning of the fatal Oct. 25 incident that ended with a shootout on Highway 395.
Ridgecrest Police this week released an audio recording of early morning 911 calls to their department which marked the start of a rampage believed to have been undertaken by Sergio A. Munoz.
- Audio released of Ridgecrest shooting spree start
- Audio: Dispatch recording of Ridgecrest car chase, shootout
- Hostages in Ridgecrest pursuit identified
- Ridgecrest lives intersect, with tragic result
- Ridgecrest community regroups after shootings
- Day of terror in Ridgecrest and on Hwy. 395: 2 dead, 3 injured
The audio begins with a 911 call at 5:27 a.m. from a woman who lives in an apartment at 521 West Atkins Ave. in Ridgecrest. She tells the dispatcher she hears shots being fired next door.
Simultaneously, a second call comes from Thaddeus Meier after he and his girlfriend, Brittany Matheny, had been shot in their apartment. Matheny, 22, was an aspiring model.
Meier, who'd been shot with a handgun, pleads for help for Matheny, who police say died from a shotgun blast.
"Please help me ... help me there's somebody shooting me," Meier said. When asked who's shooting, he whispers "Sergio Munoz."
Meier says he's shot in the arm and tells police to hurry up. For roughly five minutes, Meier tries to direct officers to him and his girlfriend. After four minutes he tells them, "my girlfriend is dead" and then in a panic that "they're going to kill my sister." He pleads for them to "please help me" as a woman then screams repeatedly in the background.
Officers are on scene, the dispatcher says, but can't find Meier. The tape ends with a man yelling and a woman screaming, and Meier saying "help me."
Munoz, 39, would eventually lead officers from three agencies on a 40-mile high-speed chase south on Highway 395 while shooting at authorities, other drivers and two hostages he had in the trunk of his car.
The pursuit ended south on Highway 395 closer to Kramer Junction with eight members of three law enforcement agencies firing on Munoz and killing him after they say he pulled over, turned in his seat and began shooting toward the trunk.
Days later the Kern County Sheriff's Office identified the two people in the trunk as Matthew Guidangen, 24, and Amanda Garcia, 23, both of Ridgecrest. They had been injured and were taken to Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster.
Officials haven't discussed the relationship between Guidangen, Garcia, Munoz, or how the pair came to be kidnapped.
Ridgecrest police Sgt. Jed McLaughlin has said that Munoz put Guidangen in the trunk of a black Dodge that he then forced Garcia to drive to West Atkins, where the shooting started.
Munoz then forced Garcia into the trunk and soon after began shooting at passing motorists.
Munoz, 39, had just gotten out of jail that Friday morning when he decided to, in his own words, "wreak havoc."
Once he'd killed one person and wounded another, he turned to Facebook to let everyone know his plans:
"To all friends got tired of cops lieng and putting me in jail ... you lucky (expletive) i havent found you just killed 2 snitches ... and his girl."
The day of terror forced schools into lockdown and closed businesses along the pursuit route.
Ridgecrest's mayor blamed it on mental health issues; acquaintances of Munoz blamed it on drugs.
Munoz's Facebook page showed he was born in Van Nuys and was an "operator technician" at Searles Valley Minerals. His main photograph showed him embracing an unidentified woman, along with the word "Love" and a picture of his three children.
Munoz frequented the small house where Matheny lived with her longtime boyfriend, Meier -- Munoz even lived there at one time -- and ha according to Meier's sister, Dawn, used and sold heroin at it.
Five days before the shootings and chase, police found ammunition and a hypodermic syringe at the West Atkins house and arrested Munoz on suspicion of felony possession of ammunition and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.