The church bell that rings out to announce the deaths of tribal members on the Tule River Indian Reservation tolled four times Sunday after a man killed his mother and her two brothers, wounded three of his young children, then died after a shootout with police.
Authorities cornered Hector Celaya, 31, on a country road in the middle of citrus orchards 30 miles away from the reservation and about six hours after the shootings Saturday night.
In the car with him were two daughters, 8-year-old Alyssa and 5-year-old Linea. One had life-threatening injuries; the other did not. Police did not say which.
Authorities have not disclosed what motivated Celaya to kill his relatives, who lived in a travel trailer on a family compound on the reservation of about 800 people.
But tribal members said the former custodian at the reservation’s casino had a troubled past.
“He had a real hard life,” said Rhoda Hunter, the tribal council secretary. “But all of us do, we all have a hard time. But we try not to let it get the best of us.”
Hunter said that Celaya’s mother was a friend of hers.
Her name has not yet been released by authorities at the Tulare County sheriff’s department, which is investigating the case.
The killings stunned the tightknit tribal community.
“We’ve had a lot of deaths here, but nothing like this. Not murder. No, not murder,” Hunter said.