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February 22, 2014

Tribal killing suspect may have been target of federal investigation

ALTURAS, Calif. (AP) — A woman suspected of killing four people at the headquarters of an Indian tribe that was evicting her and her son from its land 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 yesterday.

Investigators were looking into whether Cherie Lash Rhoades had taken federal grants to the Cedarville Rancheria tribe, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.

Rhoades was recently ousted as the tribe’s chairwoman.

Authorities said she killed three family members and a worker at the headquarters in the small community of Alturas in far Northern California during a meeting on Thursday about her eviction and critically wounded two other people.

Those killed included the suspect’s brother, 50-year-old Rurik Davis; her niece, 19-year-old Angel Penn; and her nephew, 30-year-old Glenn Calonicco, 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.

One of the people wounded was alert and talking. The other remained in critical condition, Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said.

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, Baker 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.

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