After an eight-month investigation into the murder of cannabis and tech entrepreneur Tushar Atre, police arrested and identified four suspects, two of whom were Atre’s former employees at his licensed grow operation.
Last Thursday, Santa Cruz police charged four men with robbing, kidnapping, and murdering Atre, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported. Authorities identified the suspects as Kaleb Charters (19), his brother Kurtis Charters (23), Stephen Lindsay (22), and Joshua James Camps (23).
Stephen Lindsay and Kaleb Charters used to work for Atre at his licensed cannabis cultivation company, Interstitial Systems, Ltd. The weed grow likely provided supplemental income for Atre, as his day job involved running his B2B digital marketing company, AtreNet.
Police say the four suspects kidnapped Atre at gunpoint from his beachfront home on Pleasure Point Drive in Santa Cruz, stole his girlfriend’s SUV, and transported him to the cultivation site located in nearby mountains. Then, the suspects allegedly shot him to death and left his body in the vehicle, Heavy reported.
“We believe this was a robbery for monetary value,” Santa Cruz Sheriff Lt. Brian Cleveland told local CBS affiliate KPIX 5. “We do believe this was a planned event.”
Police said they started with a pool of 3,000 suspects, but over the months, finally narrowed it down to just four. Kurtis Charters, Linsay, and Camps were arrested in Santa Cruz. Kaleb Charters was arrested in Michigan and extradited back to California.
After releasing home surveillance video showing the suspects in the act, police initially offered a $25,000 award for any information leading to their arrests. As the investigation went on, that award increased to $150,000, though the authorities said they tracked down the suspects using good ol’ fashioned police work, not with any tips.
The lack of banking access for cannabis entrepreneurs may explain why the suspects took Atre to the grow site. Since even state-licensed cannabis businesses must operate on a cash-only basis, it’s possible that the suspects believed there would be a ton of money just waiting for them there.
"This was a senseless crime. These people wanted monetary gain,” said Sheriff Lt. Cleveland.