Detectives for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office continued Friday to investigate a case in which a 16-year-old boy is accused of killing a female relative at a pastoral ranch home in a gated community.
The teen was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing a family member at the home on Neef Lane in Shingle Springs before bringing a weapon to neighboring Ponderosa High School, where he was a student, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Authorities said they were still determining the familial relationship between the victim and the teen, who is being held at juvenile hall.
On Friday, residents at the Shingle Springs home, with a winding, oak-shaded driveway and an American flag out front, acknowledged that a death had occurred but declined to comment.
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News of the incident stunned residents in the quiet community of large-acreage properties, many of them dotted with corrals.
Chris Hegsedh, 23, who lives near the home where the death occurred, described the area as safe, a place where people often didn’t feel a need to lock their doors. However, that feeling had changed by Friday.
“Our peace of mind is gone for sure,” he said. “We’re going to lock our doors for sure.”
The suspected homicide came to light after authorities responded to a report of a student with a gun at Ponderosa High School on Thursday. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tasha Thompson said the department was told that the student had been taken to the school office after being detained by a campus monitor.
“The student had not been making any threats,” Thompson said. “A subsequent search of his bag located the firearm. The campus monitor found it and requested that the Sheriff’s Office be called.”
The boy was arrested by deputies for possession of the firearm. Deputies then began the standard procedure of contacting parents or a guardian.
“He’s a juvenile so we would go to the residence and talk to the guardians and make sure everything is OK at home,” Thompson said.
Sheriffs were en route to the home, Thompson said, when they received a call from “a different reporting person” who said there was a “deceased female” at the residence. Deputies continued to the house and found the body of a woman who appeared to be the victim of a homicide.
The Sheriff’s Office has not yet publicly identified the victim. The boy has not been identified because he is a minor.
“We know the child is related to the decedent. When interviewed he calls her a couple different names,” Thompson said. “We don’t know if she is a great aunt. … We are trying to figure it out.”
The name of the deceased will be made public after next of kin are notified by the sheriff’s coroner’s office.
El Dorado Union High School Superintendent Stephen Wehr said in an email sent to parents Thursday that it didn’t appear the student wanted to hurt anyone at the school, and that counselors would be available Friday for support.
His statement read in part: “The Sheriff’s Office does not believe the student ever intended to harm staff or students (or) that there are ... any safety concerns at any of our schools. They believe the student acted alone. This is a very tragic time for the family and friends of those touched by this sad situation.”
Bee staff writer Cynthia Hubert contributed to this report.