PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — A school principal died Wednesday after being shot by on in his office by a school janitor, according to police.

Louisiana Schnell Principal Sam LaCara, 50, was fatally shot in the upper torso just before 10:45 a.m. by 44-year-old John H. Luebbers, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

A student may have witnessed the shooting, but did not suffer any physical injuries.

Luebbers allegedly fled the campus before authorities locked down the school and was located less than an hour later at his home on Skycrest Drive in El Dorado. Heavily armed officers frisked the suspect and took him into custody without incident.

suspect Placerville School Principal Shot And Killed, Suspect Arrested

School schooting suspect John Luebbers is frisked outside his home. (credit: CBS)

The Placerville Police Department said LaCara was pronounced dead at Marshall Hospital at 11:16 a.m.

LaCara’s wife, rushing to get to the hospital, was pulled over for speeding by CHP on Highway 50. She told the officer her husband had been shot and was driven to the hospital in a CHP unit.

Anxious parents lined up at the school to collect their children as the news of the shooting spread.

RAW: Parent Reacts To Shooting At School

“The kids, I guess they are safe. I believe my son is safe. But I don’t know what he’s thinking,” said parent Stephanie Rael. “How do you go back to school? How do you go back to school when something really bad has happened?”

“The kids, I guess they are safe. I believe my son is safe. But I don’t know what he’s thinking,” said parent Stephanie Rael. “How do you go back to school? How do you go back to school when something really bad has happened?”

Some parents shared stories of unpleasant encounters with the suspect.

“My son is scared of him,” said parent Sharon Neu. “He (Luebbers) and I actually had some words one time and I didn’t appreciate his reaction….He’s not a very friendly man. And he did not make the school very friendly to be at.”

RAW: Parent Says Custodian Was Not A Friendly Man

The Placerville Union School District announced that Louisiana Schnell School, Markham Middle School and Sierra Elementary will be closed Thursday. Classes are scheduled to continue on Friday with counselors and grief support services available for students.

Comments (75)
  1. Tamzin says:

    This was a great man and amazing educator. My son was bullied and he gave him a safe and caring place. The lose is overwhelming. We really lost a hero.

  2. Mitchell Tavares says:

    Hi i was a student at schnell school i new john and Mr.LaCara they both where great. I just can’t belive that John killed Mr.LaCara.I just hope we all can recover from thisand my deeps wish to Mr.LaCara famly. I aldo hope that the kids can recover. May he rest in peace

  3. TM says:

    Uh calm down. Sharon was talking about the suspect.

    1. Marie Hood says:

      Thank you. I couldn’t stop banging my head to respond so quickly to this all-caps trainwreck.

      God Bless everyone up there.

  4. Mary Fontes says:

    Laura Sturh,

    If you read Sharon Neu’s comment carefully, you’ll see that she is talking about the suspect and not the victim. Please read thoroughly before posting your comments. As you mentioned above, I hope you can find it in yourself to make it right too.

  5. Jenn says:

    Are you reading or listening carefully? No one said anything negative about thne principal, only the shooter. Sharon Neu is talking about the janitor John Luebbers not being a friendly man.

  6. lia says:

    this morning my boyfriends niece was home from school today. while we were watching her, the lock down happened. my neighbor aksed us to turn on the news, who works at schnell school and she wasnt able to get to work at the head start preschool, on top of the fact her two daughters were already in class when it happened.
    this is so crazy.
    we live in an apt. complex and are all pretty close because of the girls.
    but whats weird is everyone i talked to says that the suspect was vert nice, and i think that one persons opinion should not be the official statement on the suspects personality. the video of the mom who has the boy being scared of john, is overreated. the boy probably threw trash and got told more than once to knock it off.
    thats what i think
    also, i pray for him to rest in peace. its really sad when a good principle and teacher, which is rare, to die like this.

  7. Natalie B. says:

    Obviously Amy is not a believer as well as many others and that’s ok there’s room for growth. I believe that this is unfourceitly just one more thing to add to a bigger problem but most people turn there heads until it hits home. Presence young and old please make a stand with me that we can be less selfish and focused on are kids at the most impressionable stages of there lives. We have children raising children theses days. They need guidance and help in every area of there lives and at every stage. So many people say well I’m like this because when I was young this happened! Can we help now so they don’t suffer later and act out in away that can’t be taken back? I know that know one wants to think of is because of what he did but What Kind of pain was John in on the inside that he felt the only way out was to kill this wonderful man. Could we and yes I mean you and I have done more to help recognize that this man was unstable. I hear a lot of presence say they thought he was a terrible person in the first place. Was he befriended and asked if there was some way to help him with obvious problems in his life. Did the presence of the school who new something was wrong take it further and talk with the school? I’m not pointing figures I’m just saying this is why we need to be considerate and helpful to one another if there were more love in this world and less anger then less violence. Young or old we all need love and someone to care. Instill that into children now and keep it on going. Every where you look there’s negative things happening and each one of us is responsible for helping change that. Your children are like sponges they soak up everything, teach them by showing them. Know one can change this world but us!

    1. Amy says:

      I never said I didn’t believe, but I don’t believe that faith can make a person ‘good’. Have you made mistakes in your life? I am sure you have. Despite anyone’s belief, we all have free will. Religion cannot control a person, nor should it.

    2. Jay Robbins says:

      Is it really that hard to check spelling and grammar?? I feel like I’m reading a post from someone who barely knows English…

      Anyway, my prayers go out to the victim’s family!

  8. Pat Madsen (Johnson) says:

    Sam truly was an exceptional teacher and principal. After hearing the tragic news, wonderful memories of Sam flooded my mind. I was fortunate to be able to work with Sam at both the middle school and Schnell. I remember seeing him many times talking with a student in crisis, either in his office, in the hallway, or even out on the grounds, sitting on a rock, ernestly listening to what was troubling the child or adolescent. Everyone loved and looked up to Sam, not because of his position, but because of who he was, and the genuine love, caring, and concern he had for the children, as well as those he worked with. I know that there are thousands of children, adolescents, and young adults who are remembering him, and how he touched their lives, encouraged and supported them. My heart aches for his family, and the loss they are experiencing. I also grieve for those children whose lives could have and should have been touched by him. For all the years I worked in education, and even at this time when I am working with troubled adolescents, I have never seen such honest caring and dedication that I was fortunate to see in him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, the children and all whose lives he touched and blessed.

  9. Amy says:

    Shut up, you insensitive, horrible person.

  10. Ryver Nance says:

    I think it is very insensitive to the victim’s Family For a picture of their loved one on a Stretcher to be repeatably shown online and on TV. That picture should have not been released,or taken, but i guess its all about money right Mountain democrat?

  11. chris says:

    I think the reason why the sheriff dept. was 20mins late after news13 got there is because they need time to plan accordingly. get their team together and set up a plan to surround his house. it wouldn’t be professional if one cop got to the home first and the suspect took off.

  12. jeannie says:

    Being a long time resident of Placerville, I just felt compelled on channel 13s reporting of the shooting of a beloved educator. First of all “you” question the actions of the El Dodado sheriffs dept to search the surrounding areas including the widely used walking trail before your crews witnessed police arrive at the suspects home. According to your own reporting police had a statement from a witness the suspect went toward the walking trail. I, for one, am proud of the way our officers kept everyone, students, faculty and residents safe. Instead of questioning difficult decisions made by our law enforcement I would like to thank our officers for putting themselves in harms way to protect us. Good job and thank you! I witnessed a lot of slanted and biased reporting today by channel 13 KOVR. I watched many different teams cover this story today and was very disappointed, though not surprised with your tems approach toward the negative in an already extremely difficujt and sad event. I guess, no,I know that is why I perfer other stations coverage. If I feel this way and take the time to state it how many others feel the same way, keep silent and just change the channel? All that being said, my thoughts and prayers go out to family.

  13. L. Smith says:

    I enjoy getting my news from CBS13 but was very disappointed in hearing the news media making comment about the “slow response” made by the sheriff.

    Approaching an armed suspect’s home without preparing is just a risk of more lives. Don’t you think we have lost enough officers in the line of duty this year already?
    Shame on you CBS 13 for making the public think that the El Dorado Sheriff didn’t do their job. They did a wonderful job and the suspect was taken in without further incident.
    Thank you to all law enforcement officers for all you do!

  14. Nicole says:

    This has nothing to with beliefs, the sheriff taking awhile or the fact that the janitor was mean. It has to do with a family that has lost their father and husband. Let’s not think of our own feelings and think of this family.

  15. Carolyn says:

    My heart goes out to ” both” familys. Don’t forget John has a family also. They didn’t ask for this. Especially when John & Sam were personal friends also. Remember they played golf together on Saturday. At this point only John knows what the problem was at the time between the two of them, and maybe the unfortuntale 4th grader that was there.

  16. AH says:

    Please proof your comments before you post. Take a moment to check your grammar and spelling. If you’re attempting a tribute to Mr. Lacara and the outstanding education guided by Louisiana Schnell School, then please take time to write a clear message. Then perhaps we who read about your experiences, observations and opinions can find your comments to be of value. To help those who read these comments to understand your viewpoint. Keep safe, respect and honor each other.

  17. Tedd says:

    CBS 13 News needs to act more responsibly in their journalism. Tonight’s “story” of your reporters harassing the accused family was horrendous. If people want to be left alone, RESPECT THAT! Another great example of small city wannabe reporting. Not to mention your anchor stating the accused was a “bad man”. How do you really know that? Of course this is a terrible thing, but you are supposed to be journalists, you are not supposed to judge. Amateur CBS 13, amateur.

    1. tedd says:

      BTW, channel has been swtched

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