5 dead, 2 children injured in shootings in US

Last Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 17:01

Porterville (US): The church bell that rings out to announce the deaths of tribal members on the Tule River Indian Reservation tolled repeatedly after a man went on a shooting rampage that left a daughter, his mother and her two brothers dead. The suspect also died in a shootout with police.

Authorities cornered Hector Celaya, 31, on a country road in the middle of citrus orchards 30 miles away from the reservation and about six hours after the shootings Saturday night, that also left two of his other children wounded.

In the car with him were two daughters, 8-year-old Alyssa and 5-year-old Linea. One had life-threatening injuries; the other did not.

Authorities said Celaya was fatally wounded by deputies after he opened fire on them.

By yesterday night, authorities confirmed that Alyssa died of her injuries. Police said Celaya had a tattoo of her name on his right leg.

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 tight knit tribal community.

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

The remote reservation relies on the Eagle Mountain Casino for revenues. Each tribal member receives USD 500 a month, but Hunter said most of the profit is invested into educational programs for the children.

The compound where the shooting took place is on a dirt road in a scenic canyon lined with oaks and sycamore trees. Herds of horses graze the hillsides, and modular houses sit on hilltops.

The 911 call came to the Tule River Indian Reservation fire department at about 7:45 pm Saturday, said Shelby Charley Jr, an engineer and supervisor. He said his crew, which most often attends to people who fall ill at the casino, was shocked by the carnage.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 17:01

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