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Woman killed in shooting was a teacher in Lompoc

Karen Shumey, 65, of Arroyo Grande was shot and killed Saturday in San Luis Obispo. Her son, Christopher, allegedly shot her after a heated argument at his apartment.
Karen Shumey, 65, of Arroyo Grande was shot and killed Saturday in San Luis Obispo. Her son, Christopher, allegedly shot her after a heated argument at his apartment.

The woman who was shot and killed Saturday in San Luis Obispo — allegedly by her son — was a longtime teacher with the Lompoc Unified School District.

Karen Shumey, 65, was an eighth-grade teacher at Vandenberg Middle School, where she taught U.S. history and served as the department chair, according to the school’s website.

Shumey — who lived on the Nipomo Mesa with her husband, Bob — wrote on her faculty page on the school’s website that she had taught in the district for more than 20 years. She and her husband have two grown sons, Shumey wrote, including a younger son who lives nearby.

“I always look forward to a new school year with the same excitement that I felt as a youngster starting a new year,” she wrote. “I hope that my enthusiasm for history rubs off ... just a little on my students.”

Shumey’s 34-year-old son, Christopher John Shumey, was arrested Saturday afternoon on suspicion of murder and assault with a firearm against a peace officer. He remained at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he was being held without bail as of Monday night.

On Monday, a San Luis Obispo Police Department lieutenant said Christopher Shumey made a statement to police indicating he knew what he’d done and knew that what he did was wrong.

Members of the Shumey family could not be reached for comment Monday.

Counselors and psychological staff were on hand at Vandenberg Middle School on Monday to help students, faculty and staff cope with their teacher’s death.

Counseling services were also offered to students at Cabrillo High School, where many of Shumey’s former students now attend, according to a news release from the Lompoc Unified School District. Vandenberg Middle School staff was told Sunday of Shumey’s death.

Hugo Pedroza, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, said counseling services would be available as long as necessary. “She’s well-loved in that school community and the principal thinks the world of her,” Pedroza said. He had just met Shumey on Friday while visiting her classroom with the district superintendent.

“She definitely showed signs of being an amazing teacher just in the brief time we were there,” he said.

Shumey started working for the district in 1989 at Lompoc Valley Middle School, moving to Vandenberg Middle School in 1992, where she currently served as social science department chair. She spent the rest of her career there, with the exception of one year working with other teachers in the district as a Lompoc apprentice teacher.

Cindy Lavery, a former neighbor who knew the Shumeys about six years, said she was “floored” when she found out about the shooting.

“She just had an air of love about her,” Lavery said of Karen Shumey. “She was just very kind and gracious; a lovely, lovely person.”

Lavery said she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary when Christopher Shumey visited his parents on holidays, birthdays and other occasions.

“I can’t even imagine in a million years them having an argument and it leading to a gunshot,” she said.

Saturday standoff

Police said Karen Shumey visited her son Saturday afternoon at his residence at Beach and Buchon streets in San Luis Obispo, and they had an argument. When she returned about 2:30 p.m., Christopher Shumey allegedly shot and killed her on the upstairs landing outside the front door.

Police arrived on the scene minutes after the first shots were fired. San Luis Obispo police Chief Deborah Linden said Christopher Shumey fired a shot at the first squad car on the scene from inside the second floor.

The two officers quickly took cover and then began talking to him, police and witnesses said.

The officers persuaded Christopher Shumey to throw his shotgun onto the street, police said. After doing so, he lowered himself from the window and gave himself up.

On Monday, San Luis Obispo police Lt. Jeff Smith declined to elaborate on a statement that Christopher Shumey gave police after his arrest, nor would he disclose any possible motive.

Christopher Shumey is expected to be arraigned in a video conference at 8:30 a.m. today in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Video conferences tend to delay a plea being entered until an attorney can be appointed to represent a criminal defendant.

A judge communicates with the defendant, who appears from the jail, via video feed to discuss the defendant’s awareness of his rights to a lawyer and whether the defendant understands what he’s being charged with.

Smith said that police don’t believe Christopher Shumey was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the alleged shooting happened, but police are awaiting the results of a toxicology exam.

Smith also said that Christopher Shumey was unemployed at the time of the incident.

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