KGUN9 viewers join emotional debate over man slain in SWAT raid

KGUN9 viewers join emotional debate over man slain in SWAT raid

CREATED May 14, 2011

Notes by:  Forrest Carr, KGUN9 News Director

The top-commented story this week was KGUN9's coverage of new questions raised in the aftermath of last week's fatal SWAT raid.  Vanessa Guerena, widow of Jose Guerena, told KGUN9's Joel Waldman that neither she nor her husband knew that the men breaking into her home were law enforcement officers.  A sheriff's spokesman insists the officers were making use of lights and sirens, that they knocked and announced themselves before entering, and fired only when they encountered Guerena crouching in the hall pointing a gun at them.  Ms. Guerena said she called 911.  9 On Your Side confirmed that paramedics arriving in an ambulance were not allowed onto the scene, and were kept waiting more than an hour before SWAT officers finally turned them away, reporting that Guerena was dead. Investigators initially said that Guerena fired at the SWAT officers, but later withdrew that statement and said that he had not fired.

Many KGUN9 viewers normally are quick to rise to the defense of police officers, and this incident is no exception.  But many others are troubled by what they've heard so far.

"Todd" writes:  "It is sad he lost his life, but he brought it on himself when he chose to not drop the weapon and raise it towards the officers."

"Marla" writes:  "Over sixty rounds were shot, not one of them coming from Jose's gun. Jose had just got home that morning from a twelve hour sift at work and was awakened by his wife yelling that someone was breaking into their home. The SWAT team did not announce who they were and broke down the door.  Jose grabbed his gun and ran out not knowing if it was a home invasion or what. And as many people keep asking what was he doing with a gun? Have u forgotten we all as Americans have the right to bear arms?  Rip Jose Guerena."

"frequentfriar" writes:  "Hey Marla, PCSD was SERVING A WARRANT. They aren't going to knock on the door politely and announce themselves to the suspected criminal(s) inside the house.  As a very close friend of the family, why don't you inform the rest of us as to why there was probable cause for a judge to sign off on a warrant? I'm sure this was simply mistaken identity."

"Frank" writes:  "To frequentfriar,the PCSD has to announce who and why they are there. It's protocol.  Just like reading you your Miranda rights.  So I encourage you to think next time before you begin to write about something you don't know about.  We as Americans are all innocent till proven guilty! Looks like mistaken identity to me,if not then where's there proof?  Show what the warrant was for and what they recovered."

Reyna A. Gallegos Ortiz writes:  "The wife and 4 yr old son WERE NOT taken safely out of the home.  The wife has bruises and someone even stepped on her foot from when they dragged her many feet away from the house using severe force. She 'begged' the police (supposed to be our protectors) to please bring her terrified 4 yr old son out of the closet so he didn't see his daddy... and they REFUSED. He came out several minutes after and stopped to see his father. DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN????????????? STOP AND THINK FOR A MINUTE. The child is facing SEVERE trauma from seeing his father shot and killed by the ones in charge of our safety. His other son went to school that day and returned and never saw his lovable daddy ever again.  Media:  The Police lied to you! Didn't give you the true story of what really happened that morning.  HE NEVER SHOT A SINGLE BULLET. This is not the first time this happens in our community. ASK THEM WHO FIRED AT THEIR PROTECTIVE SHIELD???? They fired so many gun shots that they almost killed each other. What would you do if you saw a stranger pointing a gun at you from the window?"

"eyesopencitizen" writes:  "Wow, really, hypocrites! Well because someone said he was innocent now the SWAT team is guilty? ... I don't know about you but for home self-defense I have a 45, not an assault rifle right by my bed, loaded where children can grab!!! These things of course are being over-looked because the media are putting this guy up as a victim... How funny the wife can BARELY speak English but can answer with what seems like coached answers. And WHERE ARE THEY GETTING THIS MONEY TO PAY FOR THE HIGH PROFILE LAWYER????!!! Again something that media and people overlooked."

"Chris" writes:  "Just because You don't have an assault weapon at the ready does not mean that nobody should. I keep an assault rifle handy but I also keep a pistol at the ready too."

"ProudTucsonLiberal" writes: "So men with guns stormed this guy's house. He met the armed intruders with an assault rifle--but didn't fire. Which naturally caused them to shoot him. Then they made him lie there in a pool of his own blood while he died.  I am so disgusted, I can barely type.  If this story is accurate, I defy anyone to explain why the SWAT members on this raid aren't simple murderers... Good thing the Sheriff's department will investigate its own people. No conflict of interest there!"

"mrkgarland" writes:  "Are you really faulting the cops for being trained well enough to switch from safe to fire faster than the guy trying to kill them did? Yes, damn them for effectively protecting themselves and not getting injured in the process."

Niki Campbell writes via Facebook:  "I agree that this person needed to be detained, maybe even shot, but to just allow him to die is showing no concern for life, and it's against our constitutional rights. This is just a couple steps away from Marshal law."

"Mudracer" writes:  "As a friend and co-worker you get to know the person you work next to, you learn about who they are, about their personal life, bout their wife and children and what they stand for. This man is no criminal, he is one of the nicest persons that I have worked with.  The only way I can describe what happened is he put in a long hard 12 hour grave yard shift as a miner -- and believe me when I say hard I mean hard work.  He went home, greeted his family like any father would do took a shower and went to bed. They he was rudely awakened by officers invading his home without announcing that they were law enforcement.  He did what any father would do, is arm himself to protect his family. He was a Marine.  In my eyes he is a hero. I believe if officers would have knocked on his door he would have opened it with zero confrontation and he would be alive today... Jose we miss you and our prayers go out to your family, God Bless."

"Guest" writes: "Uhhh don't point guns at the police."

"Prophecy24" writes:  "Corrupt deputies abusing their power. They need to be brought to justice for their lies and MURDER! That was cowardly of them to deny Jose medical treatment! God will deny you on judgment day! I remember seeing Jose and his kids outside flying kites a couple weeks ago while walking with my family.  RIP Jose and my prayers go out to the Guerena Family."

"jimbo" writes:  "We need to know the rest of the story."

"Andrea" writes: "Something just seems fishy here. I'll be honest. The first thing that I thought when I saw the headline for this story was, 'Yeah, yeah, another criminal's family is crying foul when their loved one was shot by police even though he was shooting/threatening them!'  BUT that doesn't seem to be the case here.... I don't like this.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I hope the truth comes out."

"map85757" writes:  "What kind of a person deserves 71 round at point blank range in front of their wife and children?:

"JamVee" writes: "While I normally side with police in this type of situation, this one has too many 'loose ends' for me.  I hope that Tucson SWAT, has some good answers for these questions."

Mark Lawson writes via Facebook:  "Bin laden:  two-shot kill.  Ex military guy:  72-shot kill.  Now I don't know the details but, come on."

The Pima County Sheriff's Department has decided to grant no more interviews on this issue for the time being.  Eventually the case will wind up on the desk of the County Attorney to examine.  In the  meantime, you can find a clip of unedited video from an interview conducted earlier this week with a top-ranking Sheriff's Department officer in the "Also on" section on the left side of this page.  The raw interview with Vanessa Guerena is also available in that section along with several related stories.

We invite our viewers to join in the debate.  You can post your comments at the bottom of most stories you see on, on our Facebook page, or you can send an e-mail to