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Tribe mourns as it prepares to bury its dead
Killer used .38 caliber revolver
Another candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night on the Tule River Reservation in mourning over the violent deaths of five of its residents.
Five family members were slain over the weekend, four at the hands of a 31-year-old man who killed his mother, 8-year-old daughter and two of his uncles. He was later shot and killed by detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
Tribal Chairman Neil Peyron of the Tule River Reservation called the killings “one of the most horrific losses” ever faced by the tribe that teaches its members that love for family is above all.
Authorities suspect Hector Celaya killed his daughter Alyssa Celaya, his mother, her two brothers, and wounded his young son and daughter on Saturday. Hours later he was shot by police and died at a hospital.
Andrew Celaya, 6, remained in critical condition Tuesday at Community Medical Center in Fresno. The condition of his sister, Linea Celaya, 5, was upgraded to fair on Tuesday afternoon.
Late Tuesday the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department issued an update to the slayings.
The update reported the original 911 call was from a male juvenile relative who was staying at the property at the time. The property had numerous separate living quarters and Celaya was also staying in one of the living quarters on the property. He had been at the residence throughout the day, said the update.
The suspect was granted custody of his children on the weekends. The mother of the children has custody during the week and was not present during the time of the shooting, the sheriff's department said.
The suspect’s location was unaccounted for from the time of the original call at 7:47 p.m. until he was discoverd by a deputy at 1:32 a.m. driving east of Lindsay.
Authorities said the man used a .38 caliber revolver on all of his victims. Detectives are investigating if he had any weapons permits.
No motive has been established, though police said Hector Celaya, a former custodian at the tribe’s Eagle Mountain Casino, had been involved in custody disputes with the mother of his children.
The mother, Lindsay Ann Burrough, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday, but photos and comments on her Facebook page revolve around her children. She said in November that Alyssa was outgoing and “always has to dance” and sing and “be tha BOSS n tha center of attention almost all the time...”
Andrew, she wrote, is a handsome “mommas boi” who loves his grandmother.
The family has declined to comment to the media and the tribe has asked for privacy in this difficult time.
“I’m just sad, too sad,” said Vincent Burrough, who answered the family’s home phone on Tuesday. His relation to Lindsay Burrough was unclear.
The violence has shaken this peace-preaching tribe.
Murder is unheard of on the reservation, said Mike Blain, chief of the Tule reservation’s small police department. He was at a loss to say what prompted the violence.
Court records show that Celaya, a former custodian at the reservation casino, had spent time in jail in 2008 after pleading no contest to an assault and battery charge, the Fresno Bee reported.
He was facing a possible return to jail after recent arrests for investigation of drunken driving and drug use, the newspaper reported Tuesday.
Irene Celaya, 60, and her brother Francisco “Frank” Moreno, 61, were killed in a travel trailer at the compound where the family lived. Bernard Moreno, 53, was found slain in an outbuilding set up as a bedroom.
Frank Moreno was enrolled as a tribal member, as were the children. Peyron said the other family members were a part of the tight-knit community.
People on the reservation described Frank Moreno as a gregarious guy who was excited this month about winning a raffle at an event honoring tribal elders.
The tribe’s police department received a call in April from the mother of Hector Celaya’s children who accused him of driving while intoxicated with the children in the car. Blain said the accusation was unfounded and part of the child custody dispute.
Autopsies are being conducted on all parties and results will be posted upon completion. The suspect reportedly has a history of methamphetamine use, and toxicology will be requested.