So did this happen on an American Indian reservation, in another sovereign nation or where? All I know is that it will cost American taxpayers a lot of money to investigate this potential international incident.

Police: Former tribal chairwoman shot, killed family members, was under investigation

Posted February 20, 2014

ALTURAS — A former Northern Paiute tribal chairwoman shot and killed four people, including three of her relatives, and gunned down two others at her tribe’s headquarters in Alturas during her eviction hearing Thursday, police say.

Cherie Rhoades, 44, of Cedarville, is in custody facing murder, attempted murder charges and child endangerment charges after she shot four women and two men just before 3:30 p.m. at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center, Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said.

City Clerk Cary Baker said Angel Moonstar Penn, Rhoades' 19-year-old niece, Glenn Phillip Calonico, Rhoades' 30-year-old nephew, Rurik Daniel Davis, Rhoades' 50-year-old brother, and Sheila Lynn Russo, 47, were killed in the shooting. Two women were flown to a Redding hospital for treatment. One remains in critical condition, while the other is alert and talking.

Rhoades 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.

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 opened fire during a hearing about her eviction from her home at 101 Rancheria Way, Barnes said. About 10 to 14 people were at the meeting, including children.

He said a woman covered in the victims’ blood ran from the rancheria’s headquarters at 300 W. First St. to City Hall to alert police to the shooting, Barnes said.

Baker was at City Hall when the woman arrived, screaming that Rhoades was shooting. Baker said the police immediately sprung into action, and were at the scene within seconds.

"She did an amazing job," Baker said. "She was rattling off critical information for dispatching police and fire within a matter of seconds."

Rhoades fired until she ran out of bullets, shooting all six victims at least once, Barnes said. She then grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed one of the victims, Barnes said.

Two of the women shot by Rhoades ran outside the chambers, Barnes said. He said one victim suffered a single gunshot wound, but he didn’t know how many times the other surviving victim had been shot.

He said officers arrived to find Rhoades still acting aggressively. A rancheria employee helped tackle her and, minutes after the shooting was reported, Rhoades was taken into custody, Barnes said.

A pregnant woman, who was in the chambers when Rhoades began her shooting spree, was uninjured, Barnes said. He said he didn’t know how long the hearing had been going on before Rhoades opened fire.

Investigating officers found two semiautomatic handguns, though Barnes said he couldn’t elaborate on them. He said he didn’t know who owned them or whether both had been fired in the shooting. He said he didn’t know at this point whether anyone fired back at Rhoades.

Barnes said Rhoades and her son, 24, had attended the hearing on their eviction from their home at 101 Rancheria Way in Cedarville. The Cedarville Rancheria’s headquarters is in Alturas while its tribal property is in Cedarville, about 15 miles away. Barnes said he didn’t know why Rhoades attacked.

Rhoades’ role and responsibilities as a chairperson weren’t clear, Barnes said.

Alturas is sleepy town of about 2,800 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and is surrounded by the Modoc National Forest. It’s a winding two-and-a-half-hour drive up Highway 299, about 140 miles northeast of Redding.

The shooting was on everyone’s mind Thursday night at the Niles Hotel, which is a few blocks from the rancheria’s headquarters, said Cheyenne Menkee who works at the hotel’s saloon.

“It’s not something you hear about happening here in Alturas,” she said. “My heart dropped a little bit... some people in here a kind of shaky. People were concerned if someone they knew was shot.”

Barnes said the community has been shocked by the rampage.

“We’re a close-knit community,” he said. “It’s a pretty traumatic event for a lot of people.”

The Cedarville Rancheria’s Facebook page has not been updated since the shooting earlier Thursday.

Cedarville is about 15 miles east of Alturas. The Cedarville Rancheria owns a 20-acre, roughly rectangular property off Rancheria Way in the town.

According to the 2010 Census, 15 people lived in five housing units on Cedarville Rancheria land. Eight of them were women and 10 were adults.

Two of the Rancheria’s nine homes were rented, according to the Census. Homeowners lived in another three, according to the census.

The tribe has about 35 members, according to the federal government.

Barnes said he is awaiting investigative teams from the California Highway Patrol and California Department of Justice before removing anything from the rancheria’s headquarters.