An 26 year-old Iraq veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps was killed after an Arizona SWAT team fired 71 times while serving a search warrant on the home, hitting the victim at least 60 times. The victim never fired a shot, and the safety on the gun was never released. Jose Guerena was sleeping after working the graveyard shift when his wife heard noises outside their home around 9am that morning. He ordered her and their 4 year-old son to hide in a closet and grabbed a rifle.
When five SWAT members broke through the front door Guerena was crouched down pointing the gun at them, said O’Connor.
“The suspect said, ‘I’ve got something for you,’ when he saw them,” O’Connor said. Guerena’s wife denied he said that.
Deputies began shooting.
A deputy’s bullet struck the side of the doorway, causing chips of wood to fall on his shield. That prompted some members of the team to think the deputy had been shot, O’Connor said.
The Sheriff’s Department put in a call to Drexel Heights fire at 9:43 a.m. requesting assistance with a shooting. But crews were told to hold off.
Guerena was dead by the time they were allowed in the house, fire officials said.
Vanessa Guerena vividly remembers seeing her wounded husband.
“When I came out the officers dragged me through the kitchen and took me outside, and that’s when I saw him laying there gasping for air,” Vanessa Guerena said. “I kept begging the officers to call an ambulance that maybe he could make it and that my baby was still inside.”
The little boy soon after walked out of the closet on his own. SWAT members took him outside to be with his mother. [Source]
Vanessa Guerena reportedly called 9-1-1 for help during the incident.
The warrant was served in a home-invasion gang investigation. The Sheriff’s Department is not releasing many details because the investigation is on-going. According to an attorney representing the SWAT police officers, authorities found “authorities found rifles, handguns, body armor and a portion of a law-enforcement uniform”, however no officials reports have been released.¹ An attorney hired by the family, Christopher Scileppi, accused authorities of discrediting Guerena in an attempt to justify their actions. While this evidence might seem damning, these items are not uncommon for veterans to have after leaving the service.
The case has caused an uproar and media firestorm in Arizona. You can read more about the case on the Arizona Daily Star.