Sam LaCara Update: Janitor Who Killed Calif. Principal Says LaCara Fired Him, Supt. Disagrees

John Leubbers (AP/Placerville Police Dept.)
Calif. Janitor Says He Was Fired Before Fataly Shooting Principle, Superintendent Disagrees
John Leubbers (AP/Placerville Police Dept.)

(CBS/AP) A Northern California school janitor claimed he was fired hours before he fatally shot elementary school principal Sam LaCara Wednesday, but school officials say that's not the case.

Placerville Union School District Superintendent Nancy Lynch said that LaCara had only sent custodian John Luebbers home for the day after the janitor got upset over a personal matter.

Leubbers, 44, was arrested at his home Wednesday after LaCara, 50, was shot at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville, Calif. LaCara died at Marshall Medical Center.

No children were hurt, but police said one child might have seen the attack in the school office.

Vicki Barber, superintendent of the El Dorado County Office of Education, said the two men apparently had a dispute about the district's selection of a new nighttime custodian. Luebbers was the daytime custodian and supervised that employee.

Lynch said LaCara did not fire Luebbers, because final employment decisions are made by the local education board with her input.

When asked if Luebbers misunderstood his employment status, Lynch said: "That may have been it."

"He was upset about a disagreement," Lynch said. "Mr. LaCara thought he needed to go home and cool off for the day."

Luebbers' mother, MaryAnn Phillips, said her son was friends with LaCara, and the two had gone golfing Sunday.

She declined further comment to The Associated Press, but told The Sacramento Bee, "I really can't begin to imagine why he did it or how he did it." She also told the newspaper her son had worked at the school for more than eight years.

A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night to honor LaCara, a married father of three daughters who worked his way up from a gym teacher more than 20 years ago to principal in 2003.

February 3, 2011 - Principal Sam LaCara Shot, Killed in Office at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Calif.