SWAT team shot ex-Marine 22 times, not 60, medical examiner's preliminary report finds

All four homes in raid tied to Guerena family

2011-05-28T00:00:00Z 2013-09-17T16:03:27Z All four homes in raid tied to Guerena familyBy Fernanda Echavarri Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 28, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Records released by the Pima County Sheriff's Department this week show that the four houses served with search warrants the morning of May 5 - when Jose Guerena was shot and killed by a SWAT team - are less than four miles apart and are all connected to the Guerena family.

And while initial reports were that doctors told the Guerena family that Jose had been shot 60 times, the Pima County medical examiner's preliminary report says he was shot 22 times. In its sole briefing on the incident, the Sheriff's Department said SWAT team members fired 71 rounds.

Aside from releasing more than 500 pages of documents about the incident, the department has remained mum since the May 10 briefing.

The raid netted drugs, large amounts of cash, bulletproof vests, about 30 cellphones and a stolen vehicle, records show, but no arrests have been made.

A department spokesman reiterated Friday that no comment on the case would be made until the investigation is complete.

Jose Guerena, 26, his older brother, Alejandro Guerena, and Jose Celaya - a relative by marriage - were listed as suspects in an investigation of drug trafficking and home invasions, records show. Warrants were served at homes owned by Jose Guerena; Bertha Guerena, Jose's mother; and two homes owned by Jose and Graciela Celaya.

During a briefing before the warrants were served, records show, detectives told SWAT team members the two Guerena brothers and Celaya were associated with a double homicide related to a home invasion.

On March 29, 2010, Alejandro Guerena's sister-in-law was shot to death during a home invasion. Cynthia Orozco, 34, and her husband, Manuel Francisco Orozco, 36, were killed at their rented home in the 7800 block of West Spiney Lizard Place, Star archives show. That house is down the street from one of the homes searched in the May 5 raid, records show. Cynthia Orozco was the sister of Alejandro Guerena's wife, Pauline. No arrests have been made in those slayings.

evidence taken from 4 homes

Records show investigators took evidence from each of the four homes on the day of the raid:

• 9:33 a.m., Jose Guerena's house, 7100 block of South Redwater Drive. SWAT team members announce themselves, then knocked open the front door. Shots are fired and Jose is killed. His wife, Vanessa, and their 4-year-old son were not shot.

No drugs or large amounts of cash were found inside Jose Guerena's home, but detectives seized a Colt .38-caliber handgun, paperwork, tax returns including one with Jose and Graciela Celaya's name, insurance papers, bank statements and a bank card, reports show. Another report said detectives found body armor in a hallway closet and a U.S. Border Patrol hat in the garage.

• 9:33 a.m., Jose and Graciela Celaya's house, 6200 block of West Oklahoma Street. Most of the cash and drugs that detectives seized were found here, where Alejandro Guerena's wife, Pauline, and child were found, along with Graciela Celaya, two unidentified women and another child.

Pauline Guerena let detectives inside the home, where they found a large shoebox under a bed containing about $94,000, a bag of marijuana in the stove, ammunition, an AK-47 rifle, other guns and bulletproof vests. Seven vehicles were found at the residence and drug-sniffing dogs alerted officers to the smell of narcotics on most of the vehicles.

While investigators were searching the home, Alejandro Guerena arrived, records show. He was detained but not arrested.

• 12:57 p.m., Bertha Guerena's house, 5500 block of South Lemon Tree Drive. No one home. An officer wrote in his report that the front door of this house was "incredibly hardened" so SWAT officers had to break a glass door in the back to enter. He described the house as a "storage house" for furniture with no signs of occupancy. Dressers, couches and other furniture were wrapped in green plastic, according to records.

There were no drugs, cash or guns found in this house, according to reports, but an identification card for Pauline Celaya was found inside.

The listed owner for this property is Bertha Guerena.

• 1 p.m., Jose and Graciela Celaya's house, 7400 block of West Illinois Street. No one at home. Before the raid, surveillance officers saw two people carrying two suitcases, a black bag and a large-screen TV next door. Officers found a stolen vehicle, according to the records, and several two-way radios, chargers and a cellphone in a dump truck on the property.

Also in the dump truck, an officer detected the "distinct odor of decaying flesh," according to his report. He called a second officer to the area and they both agreed the smell was that of decaying flesh and was coming from the carpet in the trash, the report says. No body parts were found.

Three weeks before the raids, deputies were called to this address by a landscaper saying there were men with guns on the property. When deputies arrived, they found the doors to the home open and a puddle of blood on the floor, records show. Deputies did not find anyone inside, but they found traces of marijuana and a holster next to bloody footprints leading out of the home.

The registered owners of the house are Jose Celaya and Graciela Celaya.

No criminal record

Jose Guerena, a U.S. Marine for six years, did not have a criminal record in Pima County and his wife said he worked the graveyard shift for Asarco.

Alejandro Guerena, 27, had contact with local law enforcement about a dozen times and was found guilty of misconduct involving weapons in 2009 and possession, manufacture, delivery and advertisement of drug paraphernalia in 2006 and 2005, records show. He served some time in jail, but records are unclear as to when and for how long.

Jose Celaya was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration a couple of years ago, but the circumstances are unknown. Without his date of birth or middle name, the Star has been unable to check for other criminal records.

Examiner: 22 wounds

It was initially reported that Jose Guerena was shot 60 times by five SWAT officers who fired 71 rounds in less than 10 seconds. The family was told by a doctor that Jose was shot 60 times, they told the Star. Preliminary reports from the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office state that Guerena died from 22 gunshot wounds, Dr. Gregory Hess said Friday.

Contact reporter Fernanda Echavarri at fechavarri@azstarnet.com or 572-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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