Autopsy: Suspect in reservation slayings shot self

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A man suspected of killing four relatives on a California Indian reservation fired one bullet into his own head and was shot multiple times by sheriff's deputies during a gunbattle, an autopsy concluded Friday.

The report by the Tulare County coroner's office paints a picture of mayhem and overkill on the Tule River Indian Reservation, as relatives of 31-year-old Hector Celaya were shot and killed with a .38-caliber revolver at close range last Saturday.

It says Celaya's 8-year-old daughter Alyssa, whose name was tattooed on his leg, bled to death after she was shot, and the father took off in a car with her and another daughter, 5-year-old Linea, who survived a gunshot wound to the head.

Sheriff's deputies tracing Celaya's cellphone cornered him six hours later on a country road amid citrus orchards.

"He was struck multiple times by officers and had one apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," the autopsy said. It did not specify which shot killed Celaya.

Tribal officials said it was the worst tragedy members ever have suffered.

Authorities have not explained a motive for the rampage, though Celaya had a history of drug abuse and had been in child support and custody battles with the mother of the children.

Authorities said he opened fire at the family compound on the mountainous reservation where all the victims lived.

Celaya's 60-year-old mother Irene Celaya was shot twice in the head inside a travel trailer. Investigators also found her brother Francisco "Frank" Moreno, 61, dead in the trailer with wounds to his head and chest. Celaya's 6-year-old son Andrew was also discovered in the trailer with multiple gunshots. He is still hospitalized.

In a wooden outbuilding that served as a makeshift bedroom, authorities found Bernard Moreno, 53, with multiple bullets to the upper torso, the autopsy said.

"All of the wounds were the results of shots fired from close contact with the suspect's weapon," the report said.

Hector Celaya was a former custodian at the tribe's Eagle Mountain Casino. Court records show he had spent time in jail in 2008 after pleading no contest to an assault and battery charge.

He was facing a possible return to jail after recent arrests for investigation of drunken driving and drug use.

A toxicology report is pending.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Graffiti in Seattle
    Vandalism at Seattle's Gas Works Park underscores an ongoing battle with police and taggers

  • History of Seafair
    We take a look back at how Seafair became a Seattle tradition
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.