N. California tribe’s leaders ‘pretty much lost’ in slayings

Four are dead, two critically injured in shooting at meeting



ALTURAS, Calif. — The mayor of the town where a woman allegedly shot and killed four people at an Indian tribal headquarters said Friday that the violence had wiped out most of the tribe’s leaders.

“They pretty much lost their leadership yesterday,” said Alturas Mayor John Dederick, a retired cabinetmaker who lives two blocks from the shooting site. The tribe has its headquarters in Alturas, which has a population of 2,800 and is the county seat of Modoc County, but the members live about 20 miles away at their rancheria in Cedarville.

“I think we are all shocked,” Dederick said. “We have seen this happen in other communities in other small towns. I don’t think anyone anticipated something like this here.”

Cherie Lash Rhoades, former chairwoman of the tribe, attended a meeting at the headquarters where tribal members were discussing plans to evict her and her adult son from the rancheria. Police said she opened fire, killing four — three of whom were her relatives — and wounding two others.

Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said two semi-automatic handguns were recovered from the shooting scene, and he believed that all the victims were shot. He said Rhoades also grabbed a butcher knife from a kitchen at the headquarters and started attacking another tribal member before bystanders pulled her away.

Modoc County Sheriff Mike Poindexter said the dead included Rhoades’ brother, Rurik Davis, 50; her niece, Angel Penn, 19; and her nephew, Glenn Calonicco, 30.

In addition, Shelia Lynn Russo, 47, was killed and two people were critically injured, authorities said.

Maddy Arredondo, 24, who works for a nearby sister tribe, said Davis was the current tribal chairman.

Heather MacDonnell, the Alturas city treasurer and finance director, said she was at her desk at City Hall on Thursday afternoon when a blood-spattered woman burst in and screamed for help. “She had so much blood on her,” MacDonnell said. “Someone was shot right next to her.”

The Cedarville Rancheria headquarters is behind the town’s small City Hall.

MacDonnell and another city employee raced down the hall to alert police. When the officers arrived at the tribal headquarters, Rhoades had run out of bullets and was brandishing a large knife, police said.