Police change story in fatal shooting; wife wants answers

Published: May. 10, 2011 at 1:44 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:19 PM MST
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Vanessa Guerena wants answers from police after they acknowledged that her husband did not shoot at them before they shot him to death.

Pima County Sheriff's investigators said Monday that contrary to initial reports, Jose Guerena did not fire at them Thursday as they served a search warrant for his home. Nevertheless, deputies shot and killed him.

Guerena did have a gun in his hand and pointed it at the officers, but he did not fire it, said Deputy Erin Gibson with the sheriff's department.

Vanessa Guerena was in her son's room, she says, when she saw a man outside pointing a gun at her.

"I was yelling 'Jose, Jose, somebody's here. Wake up, wake up!' so he can hear because the door was closed."

26-year-old Jose Guerena, a Tucson native and former Marine, jumped up and asked what was wrong. When his wife told him, he grabbed an assault rifle and told her to stay in their son's room.

"The only thing he told me, the last thing he told me - Vani ,go into the closet with the kid. Go!"

So that's what she did with their 4-year-old son.

It was the last time she saw her husband of nearly nine years alive.

During the next few seconds, bullets riddled the family's Southwest-side home. At least 60 holes, family members say; from the front door through stucco and walls separating room after room after room.

In the middle of it all was a dead man - who did have weapon in his hands - but never fired a single bullet.

"The people he served ended his life. That's how short I can put it to you. He served his country, for his purpose, for his people and now they're saying he was a high-risk person in this state.

"I don't know why they're saying that. Now they're backing up, saying he didn't shoot."

That's why the family is coming forward...so soon after the incident, searching for answers, that continue to elude this heart-broken wife and mother.

"Why? Why they did that to him?

"I just want justice for my kids...I want justice for them."