PORTERVILLE — Gravediggers work the old-fashioned way on the Tule River Indian Reservation, chipping away at the hard pan by hand with pickaxes and shoveling the dirt aside. They say it’s a sign of respect not to use machinery, but never has the crew had to dig so many graves at one time.
On Monday, the brothers who run the reservation cemetery were preparing to dig a grave for Alyssa Celaya, 8, who died Sunday following a rampage the previous day that also took the lives of her grandmother and the grandmother’s two brothers. It will be the first of five they’ll dig this week.
The killings have shaken this peace-preaching tribe because it goes against their teachings that love for family exists above all.
Authorities said the killer was Alyssa’s father, Hector Celaya, 31, who died Sunday after a shootout with sheriff’s deputies. Investigators were still searching for a motive.
Along with killing his daughter, mother and uncles, Celaya wounded his 5-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, whose injuries are life-threatening, authorities said.