Photo: Jose Guerena
On the morning of May 5th, SWAT team officers entered the Arizona home of Jose Guerena, his wife and two children. Moments later Guerena was shot and laid dying on the floor, his desperate wife on the phone frantically asking for an ambulance. Her husband had been shot more than 20 times by the SWAT officers.
Jose Guerena, 26, was a former Marine, having served two tours in Iraq. On that morning, he arrived home from working the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission Copper Mine around 6:30 a.m. Just three hours later, at about 9:30, his wife, Vanessa Guerena, 27, woke him up frightened. She told him she heard noises and saw a man at the window with a gun. Jose jumped up, told his wife and their youngest son, Joel, to hide in the closet, and grabbed his AR-15 rifle.
Moments later, the SWAT team pounded down the door and descended on the house. Gunfire erupted (see video below), and in the end, more than 70 shots were fired, not a single one by Guerena. It has been confirmed that the safety was still engaged on his rifle.
Initially, one of the officers said Guerena fired first, but that statement was later retracted, and instead, deputies say they opened fire on him after he gestured at them with his rifle.
Authorities say SWAT was at the house to deliver a search warrant, as they suspected that the house was one of four in the neighborhood being used in a drug smuggling operation. Police allege that the former Marine was possibly involved in “drug running, home invasions and potential homicides.”
The search turned up no drugs or signs illegal activity, though body army and a handgun were retrieved.
The five SWAT team members involved in the shooting remain on active duty, and no criminal charges have been filed, nor any disciplinary action taken.
Guerena died on the floor on the family’s kitchen. Officers would not allow paramedics into the house, despite the frantic call his wife Vanessa made to 911.
She said she heard her husband moaning on the floor, covered in blood. Jose was shot 22 times in the stomach and hands. The paramedics did not enter the home for more than an hour after the gunfire.
Guerena was a Tucson native and joined the Marines in 2002. He served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of the Yuma-based MWSS-173.
He was buried in his Marine dress blue uniform, and leaves behind his wife Vanessa, and their two young sons, Joel and Jose. Jose, the eldest was at school when his father shot.
Attorney for the SWAT team members, Mike Stories said, “The SWAT guys are pretty hurt …” and believes their actions will ultimately be found to have been justified.
The video below, taken by the helmet cam of another SWAT member, shows the short but deadly incident.