Garden Grove Teacher Who Shot at Deputies Put on Leave

Times Staff Writer

A 32-year-old teacher who was shot and wounded by deputies after she fired at them this week was placed on leave Thursday by the Garden Grove Unified School District, officials said.

Kara Knutson of Lake Forest was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of discharging a firearm with gross negligence and two counts of assault with a firearm on a peace officer. She is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned today at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

Garden Grove Unified School District spokesman Alan Trudell said Knutson was placed on leave until the outcome of the case.

The district has the option of firing her, but “the circumstances were not employer-related” and therefore are not automatically cause for dismissal, Trudell said.


Investigators allege that Knutson was under the influence of alcohol when she called police Monday about 11 p.m. and reported that someone was shooting into her two-story home in the 21000 block of Ticonderoga Lane. Two deputies arrived at the home and found her standing on the staircase, pointing a gun at them, authorities said.

The deputies ordered her to put the weapon down but she instead raised the gun and shot at them more than two times, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. One deputy returned fire and struck her in the hip, he said.

She remained hospitalized Thursday at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, police said.

Knutson, a first-grade teacher at Post Elementary School in Westminster, earned a multiple-subject teaching credential in 1999 and a language and academic development certificate in 2000, according to state records.

Trudell declined to discuss in detail how the district is handling her arrest.

“Because of the nature of the special bond between the teacher and student, we’re trying to insulate [students from] this.”

Mary Armstrong, director of the state’s division of professional practices, said Knutson is not in danger of losing her credential because the charges do not qualify under certain crimes that are “serious and violent and have to do with children,” which would call for automatic suspension until the outcome of the case.