Principal shot, killed at Calif. elementary school - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Principal shot, killed at Calif. elementary school

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Students from the Louisiana Schnell School walk past law enforcement officers after being transported to a nearby fairgrounds following a shooting at the school in Placerville, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. Students from the Louisiana Schnell School walk past law enforcement officers after being transported to a nearby fairgrounds following a shooting at the school in Placerville, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011.

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A school janitor who police said might have been laid off was arrested Wednesday in the shooting death of a Northern California elementary school principal who was hailed as a role model for other educators.

No children were hurt in the late-morning shooting in the office at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville.

Principal Sam LaCara, 50, died in the attack, police Chief George Nielson said.

LaCara was called a dedicated leader by Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators.

"Sam has been a role model to school leaders for his dedication to students and to public schools," Wells said. LaCara had served as a treasurer of the group.

Authorities said they arrested janitor John Luebbers, 44, at his home about an hour after launching a manhunt. Investigators were trying to determine a motive for the shooting, including whether Luebbers had been laid off.

"There may have been some kind of dispute between the principal and the custodian," Nielson said. "That's part of our investigation."

Police do not believe the janitor had a criminal history.

One student may have witnessed the shooting, Nielson said.

LaCara died at Marshall Medical Center. Nielson said his family was devastated.

"They are requesting privacy at this time," he said.

He said LaCara's wife was driving on Highway 50 when she heard about the shooting and was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for speeding. Instead of being ticketed, she was escorted to the hospital.

Police commended the school staff for quickly locking down the school and protecting the children. Students were taken to the county fairground, where they were then released to their parents.

"The children were safe in this incident. The principal was the target in this, unfortunately," Nielson said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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