AP source: N. Calif. tribal killing suspect target of probe

ALTURAS, Calif. (AP) - A woman suspected of killing four people at the headquarters of an Indian tribe in far Northern California had been under federal investigation over at least $50,000 in missing funds.

A person familiar with the tribe's situation told The Associated Press on Friday that investigators were looking into whether Cherie Lash Rhoades had taken federal grants to the Cedarville Rancheria tribe.

Rhoades was recently ousted as the tribe's chairwoman.

Authorities say she killed her brother, nephew, niece and a worker during a meeting on Thursday to determine whether she should be evicted from tribal land. The victims were identified as 50-year-old Rurik Davis (brother); 19-year-old Angel Penn (niece); and 30-year-old Glenn Calonicco (nephew), Modoc County Sheriff Mike Poindexter said.

The other person killed was Shelia Lynn Russo, 47, a tribal administrator who managed evictions and the mother of two teenagers, said her mother, Linda Stubblefield of Taft.

Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said young children were inside the building and on the property when the shooting occurred. After running out of bullets, police said, Rhoades grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed a woman.

Authorities were alerted to the attack when a woman covered in blood ran to nearby City Hall and rang a bell to get into a side door, City Clerk Cary Baker said.

"She was saying, 'Help me, help me, people have been shot,'" Baker said. The woman was not injured, he said.

Rhoades was taken into custody and booked on suspicion of homicide, attempted murder, child endangerment and brandishing a weapon. Russo's husband works at the jail, so Rhoades was transferred to an undisclosed location.

Officers arriving after the attack found Rhoades outside the building, running and clutching a knife, Barnes said. A Rancheria employee helped tackle her, and she was quickly subdued and arrested.

A person who answered the phone at a residence listed for Rhoades declined to comment.

The headquarters - a ranch-style building with a pitched brown metal roof - is in a residential area about a block from the police station. The area was cordoned off with yellow police tape.

Investigators found two semi-automatic pistols, but Barnes said he didn't know if both had been used in the shooting.

The tribe's website says the Cedarville Rancheria is a federally recognized tribe with just 35 members. The killings happened in the northeastern corner of California, near the Oregon and Nevada borders.


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