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School custodian makes first court appearance Friday | Crime

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School custodian makes first court appearance Friday

SLIDESHOW: School shooting

PLACERVILLE, CA - The school custodian accused of fatally shooting a school principal will be in court Friday.

John Luebbers confessed to investigators Thursday, saying he had been fired from his job on Wednesday when he shot principal Sam LaCara, but the Placerville Union School District says that wasn't the case.

According to district Superintendent Nancy Lynch, who held a news conference Thursday afternoon, Luebbers and principal Sam LaCara had a disagreement and LaCara directed Luebbers to go home and cool off.

Lynch said Luebbers and LaCara were friends.

Lynch said LaCara had been with the district 21 years and would have "been proud of how we stayed calm and followed their procedures" during the lockdown at his school, Louisiana Schnell Elementary.

She said students were safe and calm and were not aware of what happened to their principal until their parents could tell them.

The superintendent said the district's three schools were closed Thursday to allow teachers and staff to process what happened and begin to "find our way to healing."

Grief counselors will be available when classes resume Friday, all next week, and longer, if necessary, according to Lynch.

Luebbers arraignment has been set for 1 p.m. Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville.

Wednesday's shooting

Placer police Capt. Mike Scott said Luebbers showed no remorse during questioning as he recounted the fatal shooting.  Luebbers told police he immediately left Schnell school after meeting with LaCara Wednesday morning.

Luebbers said he then drove to his home, retrieved a handgun, returned to campus, walked into LaCara's office and fired two rounds, according to Scott.

A school employee called 911 just after 10:30 a.m. to report the shooting and let the dispatcher know Luebbers left the campus in the direction of a nearby bike trail.

Deputies from the The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office were sent to the suspect's home to set up a surveillance.  They later saw Luebbers step out of his house momentarily, according to Scott.

The sheriff's SWAT team arrested Luebbers at 12:01 p.m., less than an hour and a half after the shooting. 


-The Placerville Police Department receives a 911 call from an employee at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School at 10:37 a.m. Wednesday. The caller says the school's janitor John Luebbers shot principal Sam LaCara.

-Police begin arriving on campus at 10:41 a.m. and care for LaCara while awaiting paramedics.

-Louisiana Schnell Elementary School is put under lockdown. The Placerville Police Department also orders a lockdown at Sierra Elementary School, Markham Middle School and El Dorado High School as a precaution.

-LaCara is taken to Marshall Medical Center in Placerville where he later died from his wounds.

-Deputies from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office set up a surveillance at Luebbers' house and see the suspect briefly step outside.

-The sheriff's SWAT team arrests Luebbers at his home at 12:01 p.m.

-During questioning, Luebbers tells police LaCara terminated him earlier in the morning. In his confession Luebbers says he left campus, got a gun from home, returned to school, walked into LaCara's office and fired two rounds. 

(Timeline information from the Placerville Police Department.)


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