By Jeff Barnard
ALTURAS, Calif. — A woman who once served as a leader of a small Indian tribe opened fire at an eviction hearing, killing four people and critically wounding two others at a tribal headquarters in California, authorities said.
Cherie Lash Rhoades, former chairwoman of the Cedarville Rancheria tribe, was taken into custody on Thursday after the bloody attack in the small Northern California community of Alturas, police Chief Ken Barnes said.
Barnes told KRCR-TV that the four dead victims 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 was the tribe's current leader. No names were released.
Authorities said Rhoades shot four people in the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office as a fifth person 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.
The attack occurred as members of the tribe were meeting about evicting Rhoades and her son from her home on tribal land.
The headquarters — a ranch-style building with a pitched brown metal roof — is in a residential area about a block from the police station. A handful of sheriff's deputies and police officers were standing outside early Friday.
The area was cordoned off with yellow police tape, and a light powered by a generator was illuminating the building.
When officers arrived after the attack, Barnes said, Rhoades was outside the building, running and clutching a knife. A Rancheria employee helped tackle her and she was quickly subdued and brought into custody.
Police declined comment during several calls from The Associated Press. A person who answered the phone at a residence listed for Rhoades also declined to comment to the AP.
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 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, where many of its families reside.
"You wouldn't think this would happen in a small town like this," said Mike Tedrick, a retired county auditor who lives about 50 yards from the tribal headquarters. "If it happened here, it could happen anywhere."
Tedrick said he and his wife were watching television and did not hear any shots. They did, however, hear police sirens.
"Police were all over the place," he said.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press