Desert Pursuit North of Los Angeles Ends in Shootout

The pursuit began as authorities searched for a man wanted in a homicide investigation

By Jonathan Lloyd and Samantha Tata
|  Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013  |  Updated 4:27 PM EDT
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Desert Pursuit North of Los Angeles Ends in Shootout

Ridgecrest Police Department

Sergio Alberto Munzo, 39, of Ridgecrest, was killed in a shootout with police officers after leading them on a dangerous chase in eastern Kern County on Oct. 25, 2013.

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A man wanted in connection with a 22-year-old woman's slaying led authorities on a high-speed pursuit in the desert north of Los Angeles Friday before a shootout with officers.

The driver was killed and two people with gunshot wounds were found in the trunk of his car, according to the Ridgecrest Police Department. The man and woman were hospitalized in critical condition and are believed to have been held captive by the driver.

Police late Friday identified the driver as Sergio Alberto Munzo, 39, of Ridgecrest, about 150 miles north of downtown Los Angeles in eastern Kern County.

A pursuit of Munzo began early Friday morning in Ridgecrest when officers responded to a report of vehicle wanted in connection with an investigation into a 22-year-old woman's slaying in the city.

That deceased woman was identified Firday night as Brittany Matheny, 22, of Ridgecrest, according to the Kern County Coroner.

She was found with at least one gunshot wound in the 500 block of West Atkins Ave., the Ridgecrest Police Department said. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

Firing at civilians and officers, Munzo led police on an hour-long chase that ended on Highway 395 at Kramer Junction with an exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

The driver, who was killed in the shootout, appeared to be using a cell phone during the pursuit, according to authorities.

"We do have some information that he may have been using Facebook," Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.

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

No law enforcement officers were injured.

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