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Tulare County Indian reservation shooter had minor criminal past

December 11, 2012 |  7:15 am

The man who fatally shot four relatives, including his 8-year-old daughter, on a Tulare County Indian reservation had been scheduled to appear in court next month on a drug charge, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Hector Celaya Jr., 31, had been arrested in October on suspicion of drunk driving and being under the influence of drugs and was charged Dec. 3 with three misdemeanors, the Fresno Bee reported.

The name of the daughter he killed, Alyssa Celaya, was tattooed on his leg, the newspaper said. Tulare County sheriff's officials say he also fatally shot his mother and two uncles.

He also wounded his other two young children, the sheriff's department said. Detectives later fatally shot the 31-year-old Celaya after stopping him early Sunday morning on a rural road southeast of Lindsay.

On Monday, the children's conditions remained unchanged: Andrew, 6, was listed in critical condition and Linea, 5, in serious condition at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, the Bee said.

Investigators were still searching for a motive, said Tulare County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Douglass.

County law enforcement was familiar with Celaya, and he had a court proceeding just last week. Celaya served jail time in 2008 on an assault and battery charge to which he pleaded no contest.

The judge ordered him not to have weapons as a condition of three years of probation. He went to jail again for DUI in 2009, to which he pleaded no contest. In 2002, when he was 20, he pleaded no contest to DUI and was ordered to pay a fine and attend an alcohol awareness program.

The only serious dealing with Celaya that the tribal police department described was a call in April that came from the mother of his children accusing him of driving while intoxicated with the children in the car.

But Mike Blain, tribal police chief and formerly a lieutenant at the Porterville Police Department, said the accusation was unfounded and part of a "child custody dispute" that was referred to the tribe's version of Child Protective Services.

In August, a judge ordered him to pay $355 a month in child support to the children's mother. The calculation was based on a monthly income of $945. Celaya was listed as the non-custodial parent of the three children, but the children spent about a third of their time with him, according to court records.

Dora Jones, a former council member for the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, said she and other Valley Indian tribes sent their condolences to the family of the victims on Sunday.

News of the tragedy spread quickly through the Indian community and on Facebook, where many posted their thoughts or what they knew about the family, Jones said.

The Tule River reservation was quiet Monday.

"This has been one of the most horrific losses our community has ever faced, and we will begin the healing process by holding a candlelight vigil for the victims through the week," tribal chairman Neil Peyron said in a statement.


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-- From a Times staff writer