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Two tales of a tragedy

The principal of Louisiana Schnell School, an elementary school in Placerville, California (about 45 miles east of Sacramento), was shot and killed today. His name was Sam LaCara, aged 50. A custodial employee, John Lubbers, 44, was arrested in the shooting, which is believed to have resulted from a disagreement or dispute between the two men. A parent with a daughter in the school described the relationship between the two men as “like best friends.”

Authorities received a 911 call in the mid morning, about 10:30 AM, that shots had been fired. The shooting occurred in the principal’s office. Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen identified the victim, who was shot in the upper torso. No schoolchildren were injured, but one student may have witnessed the shooting.

The two tales: a brief, factual report in CNN and a more detailed report, with interviews and personal anecdotes, of a vigil this evening with about 300 mourners. According to the Sacramento Bee:

“About 300 mourners, many of them students, former students and parents, gathered at the vigil held at the school’s entrance at the bottom of a small hill. They lit incense and lined the curb with candles, flower bouquets, heart-shaped Mylar balloons and placards.”

One parent, who had worked at the school as a substitute teacher, tutor, and aide, described Lubbers as loyal, “unless you made him mad,” and added that he had been disgruntled about pay and district issues.

Both men seemed well liked by the adults who were interviewed.

We extend our sympathies to the family, friends, staff, and students affected by the death of Mr. LaCara.

-Bill at

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