Chaos Clouded Aftermath Of Fatal School Shooting

Teacher: Kids Thought Lockdown Was About Skunks

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (CBS13) — When a school janitor allegedly gunned down a popular elementary school principal Wednesday morning, school officials and authorities leaped into action to lock down the campus and hunt for the shooter.

As conflicting information trickled out from officials, terrified parents waited for hours to reunite with their children, many of whom had no idea that their principal had been killed.

Julie Dewater, a 4th grade teacher at Louisiana Schnell Elementary, said she was ordered to lock down her classroom after 44-year-old John Luebbers, a school janitor, allegedly walked into the office of 50-year-old Sam LaCara and shot him at about 10:35 a.m.

“You could tell in the panicked voice it really was [serious] and we did our latches on the door,” Dewater said.

The students in Dewater’s class had little idea of what was unfolding on campus, even when they spotted armed authorities combing the campus.

“We were locked down before because a family of skunks was out, so that’s what they thought,” she said. “When they saw people with guns, they thought they were being protected for that.”

The students still had no idea what had happened when they were reunited with their parents, hours later.

“They’ll find out when they go home,” Dewater said. “[LaCara was] a father to every kid there. He’s like a brother to me, He is incredible and he’s touched a lot of lives, but I still can’t believe that happened.”

When word of the shooting reached the media, a CBS13 producer went to the home of the alleged suspect about a half hour after the incident, but found no police presence. Producer Shawn Boyd confirmed the presence of Luebbers’ vehicle and called authorities to notify them and waited near the property.

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies arrived about 25 minutes later and set up a perimeter, ordering Luebbers to surrender.

As parents continued to wait to see their children, tensions boiled over. Police briefly detained one mother who attempted to run through a barricade in her red vehicle, who declared, “I don’t care if I go to jail. I want my child to be safe.”

Irritations skyrocketed after conflicting messages from school officials sent parents to the fairgrounds to pick up their children, and then the parking lot of a local newspaper, and then back again.

Rumors that the shooting had taken place inside a classroom spread, further inflaming the impatient crowd.

The buses finally arrived in the mid afternoon, and parents waited in another line to show their identification before officials would let them take their children home.

“I know we have to follow protocol but I just want to hug her,” said Shawntea Kurtin.

One by one, the students were taken home, where parents faced what may be the hardest part of the ordeal: Explaining the tragic events of the day.

  • Wayne

    Sounds like the keystone cops are alive and well in placerville. Oh well at least they didn’t kill any of the parents although they did draw a weapon on the worried mother who tried to run the barricade.

  • kyle

    yea the placerville police department is a freaking joke. they pulled over the principals wife when she was speeding to the hospital, realized it was her and then gave her an escort. they act high and mighty until the real stuff actually goes down and then they do absolutely nothing about it. feel safe if your license plate light goes out, cause they will make sure to give you a ticket for that but if something serious happens your on your own. tax dollars at work eh.

  • John

    Was first hand listening to police reports and this moron who is a producer at CBS 13 who claimes he called the Sheriff cause he discovered the suspect at home with no Sheriff there is an idiot. The Sheriff John had 2 units undercover survaying the residence 6 minutes after the shooting went out. After the suspect got home and the units reported this they watched while SWAT was assembled and went in to extract the suspect. So obviously this producer who meraculously knew the suspects name well before anyone else and just happened to know where he lived before the release of his name is a very smart guy.

  • John

    And yes the Placerville Police are not exactly a police force, the word CUB scouts comes to mind.

  • John

    The California Highway patrol drew the weapon at the mother. The entire time i was so discussted in the news media. There the reason the parents got all the bad information and now there trying to say it was the Placer county Sheriff? Wow cause it happened in El Dorado County.. Cast in Point. Stupid is easy to spot.

  • John

    Sorry mistyped, Case in point.

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