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SWAT raid fatal drama is revealed in 911 call

  • Updated
Jose Guerena

The wife of a Tucson man killed in a Pima County SWAT raid May 5 pleaded for five minutes with 911 dispatchers to send an ambulance for her mortally wounded husband, audio records show.

Often through tears and sometimes in broken English, Vanessa Guerena, tells 911 operators that her husband had been shot by a "bunch of people" who opened the door of their southwest-side home and "just shoot him." Meanwhile, dispatchers worked to determine if she was calling from a house where the SWAT team was serving a search warrant, audio released Friday by Drexel Heights Fire Department reveals. It takes about an hour for waiting medics to know what happened, and the man is dead before fire crews are allowed into the home.

Jose Guerena, 26, a former Marine, was sleeping after the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine about 9:30 a.m. when his wife woke him saying she heard noises outside and a man was at their window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife has said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.

For about five minutes after Guerena was shot, his wife stays on the phone trying to explain what happened and asking for an ambulance.

More than a week later, few details about the investigation that brought the SWAT team to the home Guerena shared with his wife and their two young sons are known. Details of the search warrant have not been made public and deputies would not comment on what was seized from the home.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department has provided no details about the investigation that prompted the raid and little information about the moments leading up to 71 gunshots being fired at Guerena, whose gun had the safety on. He was shot 60 times, doctors told the family. Initially the Sheriff's Department said Guerena fired at officers, but they retracted that this week. Drexel Heights provided audio of the 911 calls after the Star filed a public records request.

Vanessa Guerena, 27, continuously asks the operator to "please, please" send somebody to help her husband in a call in which she seems desperate, frustrated and panicked and says she could hear people talking outside.

About a minute into the 911 call a dispatcher who says she is with the Sheriff's Department comes on and asks if the SWAT team was at her house. Guerena sounds confused, and says her husband isn't talking to her anymore. She then talks over two operators who are trying to figure out if the house in the 7100 block of South Redwater Drive is among those targeted to be searched that morning as part of an investigation.

The operator asks again if there were law enforcement officers at her house and Guerena says yes, that they're outside. She then adds that they had come inside earlier, shot her husband and pointed a "big ol' gun" at her. She grabbed her son and worried she would be shot.

"Please send me an ambulance and you can ask more questions later, please!"

Guerena tells the dispatcher that her husband had returned home about 6:30 a.m. after work and was sleeping.

Prompted by the dispatcher, Guerena says her husband was shot in the stomach and hands.

The dispatcher asks Guerena to put her cheek next to her husband's nose and mouth to see if he's breathing, but she replies in Spanish that her husband is face- down.

The operator tells Guerena to grab a cloth and apply pressure to his wounds, but the wife responds frantically: "I can't! I can't! There's a bunch of people outside of my house. I don't know what the heck is happening!"

A dispatcher asks if the people outside are the SWAT members. "I think it's the SWAT, but they ... Oh my God!" Guerena says.

A dispatcher asks that she open the door for the SWAT, but Guerena replies that the door was already opened by police.

"Is anybody coming? Is anybody coming?" she asks.

The operator tells Guerena help is on the way, but they're still trying to figure out what happened.

"I don't know, that's it, whatever I told you, that's it," Guerena says.

Just after the five-minute mark, Guerena's end of the line goes silent.

The two dispatchers spend about four minutes talking to each other and calling out for Guerena while trying to figure out if the call is coming from the same residence where the warrant was served. At the end of the 10-minute 911 call, a dispatcher says she has confirmation that Guerena is outside with deputies on the scene.

Other audio records Drexel Heights released to the Star Friday indicate the agency dispatched a medical unit at 9:43 a.m. but was told by the Sheriff's Department to hold off.

Dispatchers said there were several addresses where the SWAT team was going that morning and they were not sure if this house was one of them, the audio shows.

The Sheriff's Department dispatcher said she had not received any requests for medical help from deputies on scene. Drexel Heights fire dispatcher asked: "You don't want us going in, right?" The sheriff's operator then said: "I don't know what is going on. You guys go ahead and hold off until we know what it's going to be."

The Sheriff's Department operator said people at the scene wanted the medical help to stay back because they might be dealing with a "barricaded subject."

Three other homes within a quarter mile of the Guerena house were served search warrants that morning as part of the sheriff's investigation. The addresses and the names of people who live in the homes have not been made public. However, the Sheriff's Department has said they found drugs and money.

Guerena was a Tucson native and Flowing Wells High School graduate. He joined the Marines in 2002. He served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of the Yuma-based MWSS-173.


Contact reporter Fernanda Echavarri at or 573-4224.

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