Rocky Mountain News : Officers search rugged Wyo. area for sniper suspect

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Officers search rugged Wyo. area for sniper suspect

By Mead Gruver, Associated Press | July 17, 2007

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Dozens of officers, some armed with automatic weapons, scoured rocky, hilly terrain near here in search of a former Army sniper suspected of killing his estranged wife in Cheyenne.

The search for David Munis, 36, focused Tuesday on an area northeast of Laramie where the pickup truck he was driving turned up late Monday, Cheyenne police Lt. Mark Munari said.

"There's a whole lot of real estate out here, and we have to cover it one piece at a time to make sure we don't miss anything," Munari said.

The searchers were preparing for a long manhunt if necessary.

"I'd like to think it's going to be a short one, but you know we need to find this guy and we're going to do whatever it takes to find him," Munari said.

Munis hadn't been seen since Saturday, when his wife, Robin Munis, 40, was shot through a glass door as she sang in a band at an Old Chicago restaurant. Police say the bullet came from a nearby parking lot.

Munis is an avid hunter and received sniper training during his four years in the Army. He left the regular Army in 2003 and has since worked for the Wyoming Army National Guard.

Police were assuming that Munis had at least one high-powered rifle with him, as well as a handgun and two canteens. Cartridges for a .257 Weatherby — a high-powered rifle — were found scattered inside and outside the truck. Also, police found a handgun case inside the truck.

"There wasn't a whole lot in the truck," Munari said.

Police loaded the black and silver Dodge Dakota with National Guard plates onto a flatbed tow truck and hauled it back to Cheyenne.

A tip around 8 p.m. Monday led deputies to the truck off Roger Canyon Road about 10 miles northeast of Laramie. The paved, two-lane road meanders past several rural homes before turning to dirt and climbing into the Laramie Range.

The search began in a five-mile radius of where the pickup was found.

Munari said about 60 police, deputies and state agents were involved. They split into four-person teams and picked their way through sagebrush and scattered ponderosa pine. They were aided by two Black Hawk helicopters that were being used both to search for Munis from the air and to move searchers.

The helicopters flew in low, tight loops near a staging area. At one point, four heavily armed Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers walked down from the hills and beyond a roadblock set up on the road.

The searchers had police dogs helping them and canine tracking teams were on their way.

"I understand some of the tracking teams like to use the ATVs and four wheelers," Munari said. "We're asking for some of those to help with that."

Authorities said they were well aware of Munis' training and shooting skill.

"Apprehending a man with that kind of sniper skill and the weaponry he has available to him is an extremely dangerous type of proposition," police Capt. Jeff Schulz said.

Schulz said investigators were speaking to David Munis' relatives in Montana and a friend at an Army base in Kentucky with whom he had been in contact. Authorities didn't specify which base, but the Munises had lived within a few miles of Fort Campbell, Ky.

Robin Munis' brother, Art Werner, declined to comment on his sister's death when reached Tuesday at their parents' home in Clarksville, Tenn.

He said her funeral service had not been set.

Associated Press writers Ben Neary in Cheyenne and Kristin M. Hall in Nashville contributed to this report.