Suspect in Tulare County reservation shootings has died, authorities say


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The man suspected of fatally shooting three people and wounding three children, including his two daughters, at a Central California Indian reservation has died, authorities said.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the suspect had been identified as Hector Celaya, 31. Celaya was shot by deputies early Sunday after a low-speed chase.


Authorities announced his death Sunday afternoon.

Sheriff’s officials say Celaya fatally shot two men and a woman Saturday evening on the Tule River Indian Reservation. A boy, who authorities say may have been about 7, was injured.

The 911 caller who reported the gunfire said the shooter fled in a Jeep with his 8-year-old and 5-year-old daughters, authorities said.

Investigators identified Celaya as the suspect and tracked the vehicle using his cellphone, sheriff’s officials said. They found the Jeep about 20 miles away, near the town of Lindsay, about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Deputies tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver didn’t stop, authorities said. After a low-speed chase, the Jeep eventually stopped, and deputies say Celaya fired a gun. Deputies returned fire.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Douglass said Celaya also shot his daughters at some point, though investigators were still trying to determine when. One of the girls was being treated for life-threatening wounds.

Douglass declined to provide details on a motive, citing the ongoing investigation. Sheriff’s officials said Celaya, who lived on the reservation, was ‘known to law enforcement’ and ‘is known to use drugs.’


The names of the victims have not been released by authorities.


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— Kate Mather

Photo: Hector Celaya Credit: Tulare County Sheriff’s Department

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