"Why, why did you kill him?" a traumatized Vanessa Guerena begged to know as she was interrogated in a makeshift "command center" by detectives from the same Sheriff's Office that had just slaughtered her husband Jose. Her questioners, eager to exploit her trauma to extract information, initially refused to give her a straightforward answer.
Jose, who had finished a graveyard shift at the Asarco copper mine, was sleeping when a SWAT team from the Pima County Sheriff's Office laid siege to his home on the morning of May 5. Vanessa was doing laundry, and the couple's four-year-old son Joel was watching "Transformers," when the SWAT raiders pulled up in a Bear Cat armored vehicle.
The siren sounded for less than ten seconds; just a few seconds later, the order to "breach" the door was given because, as on-scene commander Deputy Bob Krygier later explained, nobody inside the house had "submitted to our authority."
Vanessa initially thought that there was an emergency "somewhere in the neighborhood," and called the police. When she saw armed intruders on her property, Vanessa screamed for her husband to wake up. Jose told Vanessa to take their younger son (whose older brother, Jose, Jr., was in school) and hide in the closet, while he went to confront the invaders.
Seconds later, Jose was sprawled face-first in a pool of his own blood, shredded by more than sixty rounds fired by the SWAT team. That's how his four-year-old son would later find him. Joel was left alone after Vanessa, who had gone out to plead for someone to get medical help for her husband, was assaulted and brutalized by the SWAT operators and then detained for questioning. The child remained alone in the house with the body of his dead father while Krygier developed a "tactical team" to extract the child at minimal risk. That is, minimal risk to the berserkers who had just killed Joel's dad.
As the minutes dragged on, one of the SWAT operators -- according to Krygier -- grew impatient over being forbidden to enter the home.
"Might as well finish what I started," groused the armored assailant. I suspect he wasn't referring to the need to render timely medical aid, unless he intended to administer "one behind the ear" as a form of Kevorkian-style treatment.
Krygier and his little band of heroes were decked out in full SWAT regalia -- "I had my body armor on, a duty belt with a side holster, a ballistic helmet, clear sunglasses, [and] a handgun," he later reported. Yet the paramount consideration of "officer safety" prevented SWAT team members from rescuing Joel in a timely fashion, or even confirming first-hand that Jose was dead. Rather than rendering aid, or permitting the paramedics to treat Jose, the SWAT team -- bold, valiant badasses every one of them -- huddled in the BearCat and sent in a robot to poke and nudge the victim to make sure he was dead.
Despite the fact that one member of the squad, Deputy Jay Korza, is a medic, nobody went into the house and "physically" confirmed Jose's death, Krygier later explained to detectives. Instead, a call was placed to "our SWAT doctor, Dr. [Tammy] Kastre ... [who] pronounced him dead in the way that doctors do."
This indifferent and perfunctory confirmation was an appropriate coda to a SWAT assault that began with an entirely spurious search warrant. Michael Storie, the police union attorney representing Jose Guerena's killers, has admitted that neither Jose nor his home was specifically mentioned in the warrant, which was served as part of a "complex investigation" into an alleged marijuana smuggling and home invasion robbery ring.
Three other homes were hit the same morning that the SWAT team gunned down Jose Guerena. But his was the only home devoid of anything resembling evidence in a criminal investigation. Thus it is remarkable that Jose, according to Krygier, was considered "the main bad guy" in this purported criminal syndicate, which was supposedly "hiring out to do rip crews -- to steal other people's marijuana and perform home invasions."
Assuming that gang actually exists, it would best be described as a private SWAT team, given that it would be carrying out exactly the same kinds of missions conducted every day by tactical police units in the "war on drugs." This would mean that the May 5 SWAT raids weren't so much a law enforcement exercise as a turf war between rival criminal gangs.
Distant relatives of the Guerena family were killed in a home invasion robbery about a year ago; that fact was described by Krygier as a "connection" to a "double homicide." Other relatives are allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking, but Guerena himself has no criminal record. The former Marine worked long shifts on a predictable schedule at the local mine.
If Guerena was involved in criminal activity, a low-key arrest was eminently feasible, as was a conventional search of the home. But that's not how things are done in the American Reich. It's far more convenient -- and, one supposes, a lot more fun -- for the police to employ what will someday be known as the Jose Guerena Model: Lay siege to the home with a paramilitary death squad, gun down the suspect, and then interrogate his terrorized wife.
When the questioning began, Vanessa thought Jose might still be alive. She still harbored a faint, fugitive hope that the armed strangers who had invaded her home had taken her husband to the hospital. It wasn't until the detectives had begun the interrogation that she was able to learn that Jose had died.
|Vanessa Guerena being interviewed on local television.
"You're not allowed to leave," explained Detective Dan Preuss, who insisted that this "doesn't mean you're under arrest." That was a lie, of course: Any time a police officer presumes to detain a citizen, the detainee is under arrest. That Preuss was deceiving Vanessa about this -- as he was trained to -- is demonstrated by the fact that he and his comrades took several minutes to Mirandize Vanessa in both English and Spanish.
"We don't trap you in a room and say, `talk to us,'" Preuss assured Vanessa as he and his colleagues did precisely that. As Preuss worked to extract information from Vanessa that could potentially have been used to incriminate her, the detective repeatedly told the horrified young woman that her questions would be answered in due time. But the only question to which she wanted an answer was the one she asked immediately after the raid: "What were you guys thinking?"
A few minutes after the questioning began, Vanessa asked the detectives why there had been a search warrant for her family's home. In a moment of depraved creativity, one of them insisted that "I can't answer your questions" because at that point Vanessa hadn't been Mirandized -- an answer demonstrating, once again, that the young wife and mother, whose husband had just been killed while defending his family, was being treated as a criminal suspect.
"Is there anything in the house the police would be looking for?" pried Detective Preuss, who wouldn't have had to ask that open-ended question if he and his comrades were enforcing a constitutionally valid warrant. "Now, be honest with me ... we're gonna go in there.... Is there anything illegal in the house?.... Is there anything in those rooms that would be illegal? Drugs, guns? Monies?"
"These are important questions, 'cause obviously we're gonna find out one way or another," Preuss continued. "We also need to have information about ... people that you know, okay?.... Do you know if Jose was involved in any activity? Even if he's trying to make some money for you guys, so you can live good."
Vanessa, who had neither the time nor the presence of mind to contact a lawyer, replied that Jose was "working very hard" at the mine, that they had just bought the house and were doing everything they could to save money. This included taking the time to make home-made pinatas for their son's birthday party, as well as painting and refurbishing their fixer-upper house themselves, rather than hiring others to help.
Preuss seemed to think that all of this was an elaborate plot to disguise Jose's life as a lieutenant in a narcotics cartel. His questions suggested that the young father's home improvements included "secret compartments," "secret doors," and other hiding places for drugs, guns, and money. He also insisted on batting away a statement that Vanessa made that an honest investigator really should examine more carefully.
When asked about the AR 15 Jose reportedly brandished to defend his home from the SWAT team, Vanessa stated -- more than once -- that she "didn't see a weapon" in Jose's hands, and referred to the rifle found near his body as "the weapon that was thrown right there."
"Nobody planted a gun," insisted Preuss. How did he know this? Weren't Preuss and his associates supposed to ask questions, rather than provide the answers?
In all likelihood, the gun belonged to Jose, who had every right to use lethal force to repel lawless aggression against his home. However, it should be remembered that the Regime's home invasion squads -- both domestic SWAT teams and their equivalents deployed in Iraq and elsewhere -- are known to carry "drop guns" for the purpose of framing victims as "insurgents."
Jason Moon, who served U.S. Army in Iraq, testifies that a sergeant told his troops that "The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive." For the benefit of those for whom that comment is too opaque, Moon explains: "If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat."
If the AR 15 had been planted next to Jose, that could explain why the safety was still on when it was found -- something otherwise difficult to understand, given that he was a Marine combat veteran. The "drop gun" scenario, while dubious, is quite a bit more plausible than the one suggested by Preuss, in which a young father who worked overtime at a local mine and made pinatas by hand to save money was actually a secret drug kingpin whose home was honeycombed with secret caches laden with guns and cash.
The possible existence of a "drop gun," while potentially quite significant, is not critical. The purpose of planting a gun is to provide an ex post facto rationale for an officially sanctioned home invasion that results in a homicide. The people responsible for the murder of Jose Guerena appear to be perfectly capable of retconning this atrocity without the help of hardware.
A Timely Proposal
A decade ago I wrote a slender book entitled Global Gun Grab dealing with the subject of civilian disarmament -- primarily, but not exclusively, by way of the United Nations. I have a limited quantity available and would be happy to send a personalized copy to anybody who offers a donation of $10 or more to help me keep Pro Libertate up and running.
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