Swat team audio/video reveals how deadly raid went down
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - On Thursday, the Pima County Sheriff's Department released a treasure trove of information related to the May 5 shooting death of a former Marine during a SWAT raid.
The video, two hours of audio, and a stack of transcripts and records help to answer some of the questions surrounding the death of Jose Guerena. The video, recorded from a camera on a SWAT member's helmet, captures the moments immediately before and after the shooting.
According to the video, as the SWAT team prepared to serve their search warrant on Jose Guerena's home, one of the first things they did was turn on their sirens. After running the siren for about eight seconds, the siren is turned off and officers can be heard announcing their presence in both English and Spanish.
"Police, search warrant! Open the door!" an officer screamed on the audio file.
Moments later SWAT broke open the front door. The video shows officers start entering the home and then shots ring out nonstop for a full seven seconds. An officer is seen falling out of the doorway as the shooting stops. According to reports, the team originally thought that officer had been shot; the video shows officers dragging him away from the door.
The team backs out of the house; audio confirms that they were unsure whether or not they had struck the suspect. They use their PA system to call out to anyone in the home.
"This is the Pima County Sheriff's Department we need you to come to the front door with your hands up," one officer can be heard saying over a loudspeaker.
Five minutes after SWAT arrives, evacuations of the neighborhood get underway. In the audio it's clear the team begins to regroup at this time.
"Everybody relax at this point. Whoever was up at the door, do a quick check of each other to make sure we're covered and we're good. Make sure no one has got holes in them ok," an officer said.
Seven minutes after SWAT arrives Vanessa Guerena runs to the door.
"Listen to us now. Get on the ground. Come out here, come out here," an officer orders Vanessa, who retreated back into the house. "She ran back inside," he then said to his fellow officers.
"We have medical attention. There are paramedics who can help you guys we need everyone out of the house," the officer says as he tries to coax anyone who might be in the house to come out. "We can't come in and help you until you come out and help us."
About fifteen minutes after SWAT got to the scene Vanessa Guerena is pulled out of the front doorway, clearly hysterical.
"You're going to shoot me," she can be heard screaming.
Though SWAT then turns their attention to the couple's child, they're still very concerned about the suspect inside. At this point, the team is still unaware of Guerena's status.
"He's still a threat until proven otherwise but we're not going to go any deeper than the kids' bedroom to get him out," an officer said.
Nearly 30 minutes into the raid as SWAT is formulating a plan to get the child out, the five-year old walks out on his own. The boys arms are raised and he's crying.
Things seem to calm down after the child is brought out. The tape then records some officers recapping the shooting.
Officer 1: "That was like a movie, the way he jumped out."
Officer 2: "He waited, he waited for the door to open."
Officer 1: "What did he say? I couldn't hear him."
Officer 2: "He yelled something, 'I got something for you' or something."
At that point in time, the team believed everyone except the suspect is out of the house. They start to plan to go inside to check on him choosing to send a robot inside to assess the situation. About an hour after their sirens first went off and shots rang out, they determined Jose Guerena was dead.
In a previous interview with SWAT attorney Mike Storie, KGUN9 learned that officers who searched the home found several weapons, body armor, and parts of a police uniform, which supports information that law enforcement originally believed Guerena was tied to an organization that participated in home invasions. Storie said investigators also found a photo under Guerena's bed of Jesus Melverde, who Storie called a "patron saint of drug runners." According to Storie, the items found in the home were listed on the original search warrant.
Additionally, information in the six-inch stack of records confirmed a rumor that has been circulating since the shooting. According to records, Jose Guerena was related to two people murdered in a home invasion last year. In March 2010, Manuel and Cynthia Orozco were gunned down in their home near San Joaquin and Bopp. Their three-year-old daughter was also shot but survived. Another daughter--a ten-year-old--was unharmed. According to the statement of Gerardo Guerena, Cynthia was Jose Guerena's sister-in-law.