Posted on February 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM
ALTURAS, Calif. - An eviction hearing at a tiny Indian tribe’s headquarters building in Northern California turned deadly as a woman who once served as a leader for the band of Northern Paiute Indians allegedly opened fire, killing four people and critically wounding two others, authorities said.
Cherie Lash Rhoades, former chairwoman of the Cedarville Rancheria tribe, was taken into custody after the bloody attack Thursday afternoon, Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said.
Barnes told KRCR-TV that the four dead include a 19-year-old woman, a 30-year-old man, a 45-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man. He said one victim is the tribe’s current leader. No names were released.
Police said tribal members were meeting about evicting Rhoades and her son from her home on Rancheria land.
Rhoades allegedly pulled out a gun and shot four people in the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and a fifth person who tried to flee. After running out of bullets, authorities said, Rhoades grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed a woman.
One person escaped the building, covered in blood, and ran to the Alturas police station to alert the authorities, according to KRCR.
When officers arrived, Barnes said, Rhoades was outside the building, running and clutching a knife in her hands. A Rancheria employee helped tackle her and she was quickly subdued and brought into custody.
Authorities said she faces murder and attempted murder charges.
Police declined further comment in several calls from The Associated Press. A person who answered the phone at a residence listed for Rhoades declined to comment Thursday evening.
The stabbing victim and one of the shooting victims - both women - were taken to a Redding hospital where they were in critical condition, The Record Searchlight of Redding reported.
Investigators said they found two guns but Barnes said he didn’t know whether both had been used in the shooting, according to the paper.
Alturas, the seat of Modoc County, is tucked into far northeastern California, about 55 miles south of the Oregon border and 35 miles west of the Nevada line. The motto of the community of 2,800 - “Where the West Still Lives” - reflects the area’s wilderness and natural beauty.
The Cedarville Rancheria is a federally recognized tribe with 35 members, according to its website. The Rancheria owns 26 acres in Cedarville and many of its families reside there.
The tribal office in Alturas hosts tribal events and activities like council meetings, youth tutoring and holiday celebrations.
The shooting was on everyone’s mind Thursday night at the Niles Hotel, a few blocks from the Rancheria’s headquarters, said Cheyenne Menkee who works there.
“It’s not something you hear about happening here in Alturas,” she told the Redding newspaper. “My heart dropped a little bit ... some people in here are kind of shaky. People were concerned if someone they knew was shot.”
Barnes said Alturas usually is shielded from violence and so residents are stunned.
“We’re a close-knit community,” he said. “It’s a pretty traumatic event for a lot of people.”