3 dead in shooting at Indian reservation

3 dead in shooting at Indian reservation

This undated photo provided by the Tulare County Sheriff's Department shows Hector Celaya, 31. Authorities say that Celaya is a suspect in shootings in which three people died and four others, including two young girls, were wounded Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, on the Tule River Indian Reservation in the Sierra foothills of California's Central Valley. (AP Photo/Tulare County Sheriff's Department)

Print
Email
|

by TRACIE CONE

Associated Press

Posted on December 9, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Updated Sunday, Dec 9 at 4:50 PM

A man shot three people to death and wounded another on a California Indian reservation, and was wounded himself several hours later in an exchange of gunfire with sheriff's deputies as he tried to flee in a vehicle, authorities said Sunday.

The suspect, 31-year-old Hector Celaya, also shot and wounded his two daughters, ages 5 and 8, who were with him in the vehicle when he was apprehended about 2 a.m., officials said. It was unclear exactly when the girls were shot.

A motive for the attacks also wasn't immediately known.

Authorities apprehended Celaya about six hours after Tulare County sheriff's deputies were called, at about 8 p.m. Saturday, to a trailer on the Tule Indian Reservation. Inside, they found the body of a man and a woman; the body of another man was nearby.

Deputies also discovered a wounded young boy, whose condition and age were not known.

The boy, believed to be about 7, was taken to a hospital in Visalia, then on to a second hospital in Fresno, said Shelby Charley Jr., an engineer and supervisor with the Tule River Reservation Fire Department.

"This is a once in a lifetime kind of deal," Charley said of the call. "It's one of those calls you could go your whole career and not walk into. This is one of those calls that will stick with you for the rest of your life."

The drive, along winding roads to get out of the reservation, took about 40 minutes, before the boy arrived at the second hospital, Charley said. Emergency crews had requested a helicopter to transport the boy, but a helicopter was unable to respond because of thick fog, Charley said.

On Sunday afternoon, the sound of church bells echoed through the rustic valley, an indication that somebody had died, Charley said.

At the shooting scene, police tape stretched out across the driveway leading to the shooting scene - three modular homes built on a hillside in a remote area of scattered oak trees and rock outcroppings - that appeared to be a family compound.

Two people approached on a dirt road leading to the homes acknowledged to an Associated Press reporter that they were related to the suspect, but declined to comment.

Deputies found Celaya by tracking his cellphone, and pulled him over in a rural area outside the tiny community of Lindsay around 2 a.m., about 20 miles from the reservation. Celaya fired his weapon, prompting deputies to return fire, sheriff's Sgt. Chris Douglass said.

She did not say how many shots were fired, but said Celaya fired his gun "multiple times." Celaya was wounded during the exchange of gunfire, and was being treated for life-threatening injuries, Douglass said.

Celaya also shot his daughters, though when he did so remained under investigation, Douglass said.

One girl suffered life-threatening injuries while the other girl was less seriously hurt.

Celaya is described by authorities as "known to law enforcement, is known to use drugs," though Douglass could not provide additional details.

The reservation where the initial shooting took place is about 50 miles north of Bakersfield.

---

Associated Press writer John S. Marshall contributed to this report from San Francisco.

Print
Email
|