Ex-Marine shot by SWAT has local roots

The body of ex-Marine Jose Manuel Guerena Ortiz arrives by hearse to Nogales, Sonora on Wednesday.Photo/Cesar Barron

Jose Manuel Guerena Ortiz, 26, the ex-Marine shot and killed by the Pima Regional SWAT Team on May 5, was a native of Nogales, Sonora and lived in the city until he was 13 years old, his father said.

The family has retained criminal defense attorney Christopher Scileppi, who also represents former Nogales Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel in his bribery, corruption and money-laundering case.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Scileppi said he would be investigating all aspects of the case, including why a medical response team was not allowed to enter the home for an hour and 14 minutes after the shooting took place.

According to the Pima Sheriff’s Department, officers fired 71 rounds in seven seconds as Guerena crouched, pointing an assault rifle at them after they busted into his home through the front door.

According to sheriff’s reports, Guerena did not fire his weapon at officers, as was originally reported shortly after the incident and that the gun safety was on. His wife Vanessa Guerena also contends the officers did not identify themselves and that initially she believed it was a home invasion.

She said her husband was asleep at the time, having arrived just two hours before from his job at a mine.

Last words

Mrs. Guerena told reporter Cesar Barron of Nogales, Sonora’s Radio XENY AM 760 that she first spotted a man pointing a gun at her through the window of the home that morning at about 9:30 a.m. She could not determine if it was police.

She said she woke her husband up with her scream, adding, “His last words were, ‘Vane, take the boy and get in the closet, get in the closet.’”

She denied hearing her husband yell out to the SWAT team, “I’ve got something special for you,” as was stated to the media by Pima Sheriff’s Lt. Michael O’Connor.

“Before I even closed the closet door the shots rang out,” she said. “His body was struck by 60 bullets according to the medical examiner.”

Asked on Wednesday after her husband’s body was brought by hearse to the border if she planned to file a lawsuit against Pima County, Mrs. Guerena said, “I don’t know. First I want to give him his proper Christian burial.”

Radio XENY also interviewed the dead man’s father, Alejandro Guerena, who still lives in Nogales, Sonora.

“We are protesting my son’s massacre,” he said.

The younger Guerena was a veteran who served two tours in Iraq. He is survived by two sons, ages 4 and 5, his father said. His body will be buried in Oquitoa, southwest of Nogales, near Altar.

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