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Five dead in Reservation shooting incident
Man kills four family members
Five people are dead and two wounded in what the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department is calling a homicide on the Tule River Indian Reservation.
Two young children are among the wounded, and the suspect, Hector Eloy Celaya, 31, of the Tule River Indian Reservation, who was shot by deputies during a traffic stop, has died. One of the victims, a child of the alleged shooter, was being treated for life-threatening injuries and has also died. Two other children are being treated for their wounds.
The victims located in the trailer were identified as Irene Celaya, 60; Francisco Moreno, 61; Bernard Franco - AKA Moreno, 53; and Alyssa Celaya, 8; all of the Tule River Indian Reservation.
Being treated for their wounds are Andrew Celaya, 6, and Linea Celaya, 5, both of the Tule River Indian Reservation.
According to authorities, the incident began about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, when the TCSD received a call regarding shots fired in the 100 block of Chimney Road on the Tule River Indian Reservation. Upon arrival, deputies found multiple murder victims at two locations.
At the first location, inside a trailer at the crime scene, deputies located an adult male and an adult female, both dead from gunshot wounds. Deputies also located a young boy who had also been shot. He was taken to a local hospital.
At the second location, a shed on the same property, deputies located another male who had been fatally shot.
The person who contacted authorities said the shooter fled the scene in a green Jeep Cherokee with two of his daughters. The kidnapping of the two young girls, Alyssa, 8, and Linea, 5, prompted an Amber Alert to be issued around 11 p.m. The two girls were rescued, but both had been shot by the suspect, the TCSO reports. One of the girls later died.
Detectives were able to use the man’s cellular phone signal to help find him. A deputy located the suspect’s vehicle in the area of Avenue 220 and Road 254, and a traffic stop was attempted. The driver failed to stop, beginning a pursuit that stayed below normal speeds, dipping to speeds below 15 mph.
The suspect vehicle drove westbound on Avenue 256 from Burr Drive and stopped on the side of the road just east of Road 216 at approximately 1:48 a.m. Sunday. The TCSO said the suspect fired his weapon repeatedly, and detectives returned fire, striking Celaya at least once.
Celaya was taken into custody and was pronounced dead later Sunday. One child received non-life-threatening injuries. The second had life-threatening injuries, said the TCSD. She did not survive. During the preliminary investigation, detectives learned Celaya had shot the children.
A motive for the attacks was not immediately known. Celaya was known to deputies as a drug-user, the TCSD reported.
The boy who was wounded is believed to be about 7, said Shelby Charley Jr., an engineer and supervisor with the Tule River Indian Reservation Fire Department.
“This is a once in a lifetime kind of deal,” Charley said. “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 winding roads out of the reservation delayed medical help for the boy, Charley said, and thick fog in the area prevented a medical helicopter from responding.
Approximately 1,100 people live on the reservation about 15 miles southeast of Porterville.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the TCSO at (800) 808-0488.
The Associated Press contributed to this report