Gunman who killed 4 relatives on Indian reservation in California reported thefts to police

The gunman who killed four family members on a rural Indian reservation in California had reported thefts to police and was once accused of driving under the influence with his children in the car, authorities said Monday.

PORTERVILLE, Calif. — The gunman who killed four family members on a rural Indian reservation in California had reported thefts to police and was once accused of driving under the influence with his children in the car, authorities said Monday.

But police had no indication that Hector Celaya, 31, would kill his mother, two uncles and a daughter on the Tule River Indian Reservation on Saturday night, tribal police chief Mike Blain said.

Blain said the DWI claim against Celaya was part of a child custody dispute and was determined to be without merit. He did not elaborate on the theft claims.

Two of Celaya’s other children were wounded in the shooting.

Authorities later cornered him on a country road in the middle of citrus orchards 30 miles (48 kilometres) away from the reservation, where he died in a shootout with deputies.

In the car with him were two daughters: 8-year-old Alyssa who had life-threatening injuries and 5-year-old Linea who was seriously hurt. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Chris Douglass said it was unclear when Celaya shot his daughters.

Celaya was wounded by deputies after he fired on them, and died hours later at a hospital, she said.

By Sunday night, authorities confirmed that Alyssa had also died.

Authorities have not disclosed what motivated Celaya to kill his relatives, who lived in a travel trailer on a family compound on the reservation of about 800 people. But tribal members said the former custodian at the reservation’s casino had a troubled past.

“He had a real hard life,” said Rhoda Hunter, the tribal council secretary. “But all of us do, we all have a hard time. But we try not to let it get the best of us.”

Hunter said that Celaya’s mother was a friend of hers. The Tulare County sheriff’s department, which is investigating the case, identified her 60-year-old Irene Celaya.

The killings stunned the tightknit tribal community.

“We’ve had a lot of deaths here, but nothing like this. Not murder. No, not murder,” Hunter said.

The emergency call came to the Tule River Indian Reservation fire department at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, said Shelby Charley Jr., an engineer and supervisor.

Charley said his crew immediately discovered a woman and man dead of gunshot wounds, then quickly found a young boy with critical wounds.

Minutes later, sheriff’s deputies found a third body in an outbuilding that had been set up as a makeshift bedroom. Authorities said the bodies of Irene Celaya and her 61-year-old brother Francisco Moreno were found in the trailer. The body of their 53-year-old brother, Bernard Franco, was in the shed.

The wounded boy was identified as Celaya’s 6-year-old son, Andrew.

Deputies found Celaya by tracking his cellphone.

He eventually pulled over in a rural area deep in the heart of citrus country outside the tiny community of Lindsay. Celaya opened fire, prompting deputies to return fire, Douglass said.

She did not say how many shots were fired, but said Celaya fired his gun “multiple times.” Celaya was shot during the exchange of gunfire, Douglass said.

Police said Celaya was “known to law enforcement” and “known to use drugs,” though Douglass could not provide details.

Just Posted

Former Humboldt Broncos player who survived bus crash hopes for spot on team

RED DEER, Alta. — A former Humboldt Broncos player whose back was… Continue reading

Man and dog dead after early morning house fire in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Officials say a man and a dog are dead… Continue reading

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

OTTAWA — The federal government is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit against… Continue reading

May says Greens will work with any party that has a serious plan for the climate

OTTAWA — With three months until Canadians vote in the next federal… Continue reading

Joe Hittel rappels down 12 storey building in Red Deer – again

Eighty four year old Red Deerian was not afraid to rappel down… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Hotels face battle over whether to help US house migrants

DETROIT — There’s a new target in the clash over immigration: hotels.… Continue reading

Thousands visit Illinois governor mansion after renovations

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Thousands of people have visited the Illinois governor’s mansion… Continue reading

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

VANCOUVER — High school students in Canada may not be getting the… Continue reading

‘Us and them’: influence of Quebec anglos on decline with new Coalition government

MONTREAL — Last March, Quebec Premier Francois Legault made a mocking remark… Continue reading

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

VANCOUVER — Japanese Canadians across the country are meeting to discuss how… Continue reading

Off Canada’s East Coast, a hunt to detect ‘beautiful’ great white sharks

HALIFAX — The great white sharks move torpedo-like through East Coast waters,… Continue reading

ESPN reasserts political talk policy after attack on Trump

NEW YORK — ESPN is reminding employees of the network’s policy to… Continue reading

Tentative agreement averts strike by Quebec provincial park employees

MONTREAL — A full-blown strike by employees at Quebec provincial parks that… Continue reading

Most Read