Relative: N. Calif. shootings prompted by eviction
Relative: N. Calif. shootings prompted by eviction
Relative: N. Calif. shootings prompted by eviction - The Washington Post
On Thursday afternoon, her brother, Rurik Davis, and other tribal members were attending a
meeting involving Rhoades's potential eviction at the site in the rural northeastern California
community of Alturas. It's unclear precisely when the shooting began, but in quick succession Davis,
50; Rhoades' niece, Angel Penn, 19; her nephew, Glenn Calonicco, 30; and Shelia Lynn Russo, 47,
One of Rhoades' nephews, Jason Penn, said Rhoades' brother was behind the eviction effort.
Rhoades recently was ousted as chairwoman of the 35-member tribe that includes many of her
relatives. Eviction from tribal housing is among the most serious punishments for American Indians.
"Her brother drove her too far," Penn said as he stood in the front yard of Rhoades' home on the
tribe's property in Cedarville, about 15 miles from Alturas.
Penn said he drove into Alturas on Thursday with Rhoades, and she dropped him off at a cousin's
home before going to tribal headquarters. He later heard about the shooting.
"All I heard was there was some shooting, and my sister and brother were dead," he said with a
shrug. His sister was Penn, and his brother Calonicco. "I've gotten over worse."
Investigators have been looking into whether Rhoades took at least $50,000 in missing federal grant
money meant for the tribe she once led, a person familiar with the tribe's situation told The
Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity. Rhoades recently was
ousted as the tribe's chairwoman.
Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said Friday that authorities have been checking whether the
embezzlement allegations spurred the tribe's efforts to evict Rhoades, but had not established any
"If we could confirm or deny that, it would help me toward a motive," Barnes said.
Police armed with rifles and pistols served a search warrant on Rhoades' home Friday but would not
say what they had seized.
Barnes said that as the shooting erupted, young children were inside the building and on the
property, and a judge from another tribe was listening to the eviction proceedings over the phone.
After running out of bullets, Rhoades grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed a woman, police said. She
chased one of Davis' daughters out of the building and into the parking lot while brandishing the
Both of Davis' daughters were wounded. Officials said that one was alert and talking, while the other
remained in critical condition Friday.
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 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, authorities said.
The tribe's 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
In addition to a kitchen knife, investigators found two semi-automatic pistols at the scene.
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 people -- "Where the West Still Lives" -reflects the area's wilderness and natural beauty.
The Cedarville Rancheria is a federally recognized tribe. The Rancheria owns 26 acres in Cedarville,
where most members reside in nine small, one-story houses on lots on the outskirts of town. The
tribal houses are clustered around a small playground.
An audit of the tribe's books by a private firm showed the tribe received $1.1 million in federal
money in 2012. About half went toward tribal roads, with the balance directed to governmental and
general assistance, and housing.
The audit, which was filed with the federal government in late November, raised questions about
how the government and roads funds were spent. It found that both the bookkeeping and
management of tribal programs had "material weakness" that created an opportunity for abuses.
A summary of the audit, posted on a federal website, did not detail specifics about the weaknesses
nor the exact costs that the auditor questioned.
The decision to evict a tribal member is a "very big statement," particularly in a rural area where
other housing might be hard to find, said Dennis Chappabitty, a California attorney with extensive
experience working with tribal governments.
While Chappabitty has visited the Cedarville Rancheria, he said he did not know tribe's eviction
rules. Generally, a tribe has wide latitude to evict a member, whether for failure to pay rent or "just
Problems can arise in small tribes, he said, because a member up for eviction might feel targeted for
The fourth victim, Russo, 47, was a tribal administrator who managed evictions and had two
teenagers, said her mother, Linda Stubblefield of Taft.
Stubblefield said Russo had mentioned several times that she was worried about violence associated
"Anytime you evict someone from their home, you're going to worry about this," Stubblefield said.
"And you're taking their Indian rights from them."
Struggling to find words, Stubblefield said her son-in-law had called her to break the news about the
"This is not supposed to happen," Stubblefield said.
Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Jason Dearen, Lisa Leff, Channing
Joseph and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York
contributed to this report.
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