(Reuters) - Four people were killed and two others critically wounded when a woman opened fire at a Native American tribal office near the Oregon border in Northern California on Thursday, police said.
A 44-year-old former tribal leader identified as Sherie Lash, also known as Sherie Rhoades, was arrested at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office on charges of murder and attempted murder, a spokeswoman for the Alturas police department said.
The attack took place during an eviction hearing involving Lash, police told Reuters.
Four people were shot and killed after the attacker pulled a gun and began “systematically shooting individuals” in the office, Alturas Police Chief Ken Barnes said. Two others were shot, and one of them possibly wounded with a knife, as they tried to escape.
“This is like nothing I have had to deal with in my 25 years of being with the city of Alturas,” Barnes said. “It’s just tragic.”
Two women, aged 19 and 45, and two men aged 30 and 50, died, authorities said. One of the dead men was a tribal leader.
The two victims who survived the attack, which took place at about 3:30 p.m. Pacific time (2330 GMT) on Thursday, were airlifted to hospitals in a critical condition.
One victim, who had been shot at least four or five times and possibly stabbed, was out of surgery and in an intensive care unit, Barnes said. The other victim, who was shot once, was recovering after surgery.
Lash, of Cedarville, California, was being held at the Modoc County Jail on charges of homicide, attempted murder, child endangerment and brandishing a weapon. She would be moved to an undisclosed facility, for her safety, Barnes said.
After apparently running out of bullets, the attacker picked up a large kitchen knife and chased one of the victims who had been shot and fled the building, said Barnes.
Eventually, an uninjured employee was able to detain the attacker in the parking lot area, he added.
Alturas is in remote northeastern California, about 30 miles south of the Oregon border.
Around 35 members of the Northern Paiute group live on 26 acres at The Cedarville Rancheria, according to its website. The group could not be reached for comment.
The tribal office, in Alturas, about 20 miles west of Cedarville, is where “day-to-day business is conducted and tribal events are held,” the website said.
Police found two semi-automatic handguns at the scene, Barnes said.
Editing by Andrew Heavens