Iraq war vet shot 71 times by SWAT team

Daily Mail
22.05.2011
By Daily Mail Reporter

‘Government killed one of their own’: Iraq war vet and father of two shot 71 times in own HOME by SWAT team

Jose Guerena, 26,survived two tours of duty in Iraq as a marine, only to be gunned down in a hail of 71 bullets in his own Tucson, Arizona home, while his wife and four-year old son hid in a nearby closet.

Mr Guerena’s wife, Vanessa, said she heard her husband moaning as he lay dying, his body struck by 60 of the bullets.

Ms Guerena told ABC News: ‘I saw his stomach, all the blood on the floor’.

She said her goal now is to ‘clear his good name’. Ms Guerena said their son Joel keeps asking about his deceased father, ‘Is he a bad guy?’

The Tucson SWAT team responsible for the May 5 house shooting defends its actions, saying the team was conducting a multi-house drug investigation based on a search warrant when they saw Mr Guerena aiming an assault rifle at them.

At first, the SWAT team had said Mr Guerena fired first, but then they retracted that statement, saying he had left the safety on.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Office declines to say whether any drugs were found in the house, claiming the investigation is ongoing.

In a statement, the sheriff’s office criticized those questioning the team, saying, ‘It is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a cover up, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge’.

On the night of the raid, Ms Guerena said her husband was asleep, after having worked a night shift at the Asarco copper mine. She said she then saw the armed SWAT team outside her youngest son’s bedroom window.

Reyna Ortiz, 29, a relative of the family, told reporters: ‘She saw a man pointing at her with a gun. She yelled, “Don’t shoot! I have a baby!”‘

Ms Guerena alleges that she thought it was a criminal assault, since two members of her sister-in-law’s family, Cynthia and Manny Orozco, had been killed last year in their Tucson home.

Ms Guerena said she shouted for her husband, who told her to take young Joel and hide in a closet.

After the shooting, Ms Guerena says she emerged from the closet. ‘They came into the house to get me,’ she told ABC reporters.

She told a 9-11 operator: ‘They were… going to shoot me. And I put my kid in front of me’, according to ABC.

Crying, she also told the operator: ‘He’s on the floor! Can you please hurry up?’

When she encountered the SWAT team, ‘the only thing I told them was take care of him, take him to a hospital,’ Ms Guerena told ABC.

An ambulance reportedly arrived in a few minutes, but medical personnel were not allowed inside to see Mr Guerena for an hour and 14 minutes, the family’s attorney, Chris Scileppi, told ABC News affiliate KGUN.

In contrast, it took responders only 12 minutes to address Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in Tucson in January, according to Mr Scileppi.

Mr Scileppi accused officers of ‘circling their wagons’.

‘The pieces don’t fit. I think it was poor planning, overreaction and now they’re trying to CYA’, Scileppi told ABC.

Mr Guerena served two tours of duty in Iraq, until he left the Marines in 2006.

ABC interviewed his former commander, Sergeant Leo Verdugo, who told them he ‘definitely pulled his weight’.

‘I have a hard time grasping how something so tragic could happen’, he told the network.

Full article

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