William N. Grigg
February 4, 2013
Gabrielle Giffords, the “surprise witness” at the January 30 Senate hearing on gun violence, was among thirteen people attacked by a deranged gunman in the parking lot of a Safeway in Tucson two years ago. Vanessa Guerena, another Tucson resident whose husband was murdered in an act of gun-related criminal violence in their living room about four months later, was not given an opportunity to address the Senate panel. That’s because her husband’s killers – who remain at large – committed that crime under the color of state “authority.”
Guerena, a former Marine and Iraq combat veteran, was gunned down by a Pima County SWAT team who committed an illegal home invasion on the basis of a spurious search warrant. When the invaders arrived, Jose was asleep after finishing a graveyard shift at a local copper mine. It’s difficult to believe that the 26-year-old father of two would be working the graveyard shift if he had been at the center of a large marijuana smuggling operation, as the Pima County Sheriff’s Office later claimed on the basis of unalloyed speculation.
The Sheriff’s Office was aware of Jose’s work schedule, because they had kept his home under surveillance for several weeks before the raid. If an arrest had been justified, it could have been carried out, using conventional means, at practically any time. In fact, the Sheriff’s Office conducted a conventional, low-profile arrest of three of his relatives. The suspects – two small women and a man well into middle age – were taken into custody by plainclothes detectives without a SWAT team laying siege to their homes. But this occurred nearly a year after the fatal SWAT assault on Guerena’s home.
The Sheriff’s Office never explained why a SWAT raid was supposedly necessary in order to carry out searches that didn’t result in arrests until nearly a year later. The unspoken but obvious answer was that the raid wasn’t necessary – but it seemed like a fun and relatively low-risk outing for the armored adolescents that compose the local SWAT team. Their attitude as they approached the Guerena home doesn’t suggest that they were genuinely concerned about the possibility of danger. The officers were cheerful and light-hearted as they were decanted from their armored vehicle to inflict terror on an innocent family.
After being shaken awake by his terrified wife, Jose grabbed a legally acquired AR-15 rifle and told his wife and their four-year-old son, Jose, Jr., to hide in a closet while he confronted the unidentified intruders.
Within seconds of forcing their way into the home, the raiders — who were armed with high-capacity “assault weapons” of the kind that would be banned for civilian use if Obama, Biden, Feinstein and their ilk prevail – had flung 71 rounds at Guerena. In keeping with established custom, the uniformed murderers lied by claiming that their victim had fired the first shot after growling a cinematic imprecation at the SWAT team. It was later established that Jose didn’t even disengage the safety on his rifle. He was hit with twenty-two rounds.
During the assault, Vanessa called 911. Paramedics arrived on the scene in minutes. The SWAT team turned them away. According to the coroner’s report, the injuries Jose sustained were not fatal – if he had received immediate medical attention. There was at least one combat medic in the SWAT team that attacked the Guerena home. He was morally and legally required to provide aid. Doing so, however, might have posed an immeasurably small risk to that most precious of things, “officer safety” – so the team simply waited for Jose to die.
One of the raiders expressed dissatisfaction with that decision — but because he wanted to “finish” what they had started by cleanly killing off their victim, rather than doing whatever was necessary to save his life.
When a tearful and horrified Vanessa emerged from the home to plead for someone to help her husband, she was assaulted and dragged away to be interrogated without the benefit of legal counsel. Her abductors maintained the pretense that her husband was alive and getting medical assistance. After a lengthy interval, four-year-old Joel wandered out of the house. He most likely has vivid memories of seeing his father’s bloody and lifeless body on their living room floor.
Jose was a peripheral figure in the narcotics investigation. The marauders who attacked the Guerena family’s home did not know what they were looking for, and found no evidence that Jose was involved in criminal activity. They most likely wanted to blackmail him into becoming an undercover asset.
“Mom, was my dad a bad guy?” six-year-old Joel tearfully asked his newly widowed mother after the child — who was at school during the shooting — had absorbed the full horror of what had happened. “They killed my dad! Police killed my dad! Why? What did my dad do?”
Vanessa should have been offered the opportunity to tell that story before the Senate panel – and in front of the national audience commanded by the January 30 hearing. Jose, Jr., who is now six years old, might also have been able to testify. But this wouldn’t have been compatible with the purpose of the event, which was to advance a “conversation” intended to promote the disarmament of the public, with the ultimate objective of creating a government monopoly on the use of force. That disarmament program would be carried out by, among others, the state-licensed assassins who murdered Jose Guerena.