Former Marine killed by SWAT was acting in defense, family says
- New details are emerging about Jose Guerena, the man killed last Thursday in a SWAT incident at his Tucson home. He was gunned down by SWAT members while his wife and young child hid in a closet.
Now, the Pima County Sheriff's Department has taken responsibility for the fatal shooting. The SWAT team said it was just executing a narcotics search warrant when Guerena threatened officers with a military rifle. But the Sheriff's Department has changed its story on whether Guerena actually fired at anyone.
Now, Pima County Sheriff's officials are refuting original claims that Guerena fired at the SWAT members. In fact, they confirmed his safety was still on when his gun was recovered. Also, officials said that reports that some SWAT officers' shields were riddled with bullets are also untrue.
A smashed window and a barrage of bullet holes might be the type of scene a battle-hardened Marine would find in a war zone but not the Tucson home he shared with his two children and wife. Guerena's wife, Vanessa, said her husband died thinking he was protecting his family from an invasion.
"I saw this guy pointing me at the window. So, I got scared. And, I got like, ‘Please don't shoot, I have a baby.' I put my baby (down). (And I) put bag in window. And, I yell ‘Jose! Jose! Wake up!'" she explained.
Jose had just come home from working at the mine. Vanessa said he had fallen asleep two hours before, only to wake up to chaos in his house. It was Pima County SWAT executing a narcotics conspiracy search warrant, but according to her, neither she nor her husband knew it was the authorities until it was too late.
"You're saying only (they) yelled SWAT after the shootout?" asked KGUN9 reporter Joel Waldman.
"Oh, yes! Yes," said Guerena.
Vanessa said Jose grabbed a gun to protect himself from what he thought were home invaders. But, authorities said the Marine knew who it was; and they said he had SWAT in his sights. According to officials, Jose crouched with his AR-15 and said, "I have something for you!"
"Now, they're saying this now that they admitted for him not shooting back (SIC). They want to throw more dirt on him," said cousin Oscar Garcia.
SWAT gunned Jose down with 71 rounds fired in just about seven seconds; officials said they did not expect Vanessa to be home with their four-year-old son, Joel, who ended up witnessing his dad's death. Now he has questions about what happened, like so many others.
Jose's relatives want his children to know he did his best to be a great husband, dad and patriot.
Authorities told KGUN9 that three other neighborhood homes were targeted Thursday, all tied to a narcotics conspiracy. They say a large amount of cash was found at one of the homes. But, not at the Guerena house; all they said they found there was "evidence pertinent to the case." At this time, officials aren't saying anything more. However, Vanessa Guerena has insisted there were no drugs or money in their home.