“The suspect was inside that building for a significant amount of time before the executions began,” stated the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation in a communication that went out on Tuesday. “Based on the investigation thus far, this does not appear to be a random incident.”
Allegedly, on Sunday at about 5:45 p.m., the murderer—a man, by official accounts—entered a building located on the 10-acre Kingfisher County cannabis grow operation. The farm stands some 55 miles away from Oklahoma City. Officials say the murders were conducted in the style of an execution.
On Monday, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation received reports of a hostage situation at the farm, which is located on North 2760 Road, 1.5 miles from the town of Lacy, Oklahoma.
"This was definitely not random. This appears to be a purposeful act," said Brook Arbeitman, an OSBI spokesperson. "So while I would encourage people to remain vigilant – and I can’t ever say it’s not a danger to the public — it’s definitely not random."
Law enforcement has declined to release the name of the person who they see as a suspect in the case. The official slant on this decision is that by releasing their identity, they could be putting other people in danger.
An arrest warrant was reported to be issued, according to reports from a local news channel citing comments made by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
The killings took place at a crucial moment for cannabis in Oklahoma. March, state voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana, some five years after the state legalized medicinal marijuana.
Already, the incident has given anti-legalization media reports fodder.
"Ever since they passed that law, I was afraid this was going to happen," a neighboring farmer named David Bryan told a local news channel.
What is known is that the victims were four Chinese citizens — three men and one women — who state police were shot. A fifth victim was wounded and was brought to a hospital for medical care via air flight. The victims' names have yet to be released because police say there have been language barriers involved in notifying their next of kin of the tragedy that took place. Other people who were present on the property at the time of the killing survived unharmed.
In recent years, large swaths of the United States cannabis industry have become dependent on the labor of Chinese immigrants. In the unlicensed industry, many have been coerced into exploitative labor conditions and left with no legal recourse.
Bryan made comments about those working on the farm could be seen as fitting into stereotypical tropes about “emotionless” Chinese people.
"Very sinister, very private,” he described the Chinese migrants on the farm. “You couldn't get them to wave or anything. They had a gate they kept closed all the time. Unless they were coming or leaving. But yeah, I never had a good feeling about it.”
A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority told CBS News that the farm where the quadruple murder took place does have a license for medicinal marijuana cultivation.
"There's a lot to unravel with this case," Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Captain Stan Florence told Fox News. "It'll take a little time for us to process it."