Mojave Desert gunman's life crumbled to bloody end

By Justin Pritchard

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 27 2013 10:26 p.m. MDT

"Your such a great dad when you were not on drugs...I remember how you used always try and teach us how to dance all crazy with your chicken legs haha," she wrote. "You were a good father and person, you just made a sad choice."

She promised to watch over her two younger brothers, now that their dad was gone.

Ridgecrest is a city of about 27,000 people adjacent to the vast Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. It sits near U.S. 395, which runs through the western Mojave, below the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada.

"It's a small town, pretty much everybody knows everybody," said Ridgecrest police Sgt. Jed McLaughlin, who himself had arrested Munoz about 10 years ago.

The violence that ended with Munoz's roadside death began Friday around 5:30 a.m. when Munoz rolled up the driveway to the house where he had been staying with his friend, Thaddeus Meier, and Meier's longtime girlfriend.

"We're going to reduce all of the snitches in town," Munoz told Meier after rousing him with a knock on the front door, according to Meier's sister, Dawn, recounting what her brother said from the hospital.

When her brother declined, Munoz shot him at least twice, then shot and killed Meier's girlfriend. The Kern County Sheriff's Office later identified her as Brittany Matheny.

Dawn Meier said she saw Munoz using heroin and dealing the drug out of the house. She had been staying there with her brother until about a week ago, when her boyfriend insisted that she move out with her 7-month-old son due to all the drug-related foot traffic.

She said her brother called Munoz "a very, very good friend of mine" but that she is a good judge of character and thought him unpredictable, "just by the vibes I got."

Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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