Two men were fatally shot inside a medical marijuana shop on Chester Avenue Wednesday, marking what may be the first homicides to occur inside a pot dispensary in Kern County.
Bakersfield police spokeswoman Michaela Beard said the department received a call at 9:49 a.m. of a shooting inside First Reliable, a medical marijuana collective at 217 Chester Ave. Officers found two people dead inside.
The victims were identified Wednesday evening as Devin Scott Daniels, 23, of Bakersfield, and Tony Conrad Sherman, 55, of Los Angeles.
Beard said a dark-colored SUV was seen speeding from the area with a black male driver and an unknown race female passenger. She said the investigation was in the early stages and that a motive was unknown, as was whether the victims were employees or customers.
She did not say whether marijuana, cash or other items were taken from the business. Police closed Chester Avenue from 2nd to 3rd streets.
Two women arrived at the scene sobbing and yelling “Where’s he at?” Officers escorted them down the sidewalk and began interviewing them.
Shortly afterward another woman showed up and dropped to her knees on the sidewalk as she screamed. Other people helped her walk toward the officers and the other women, where a small crowd had gathered.
Bridget Daniels said she received a call from a family friend that her 23-year-old son was one of the victims. Daniels was standing just outside the police tape put up south of First Reliable in front of the Taqueria Los Altos parking lot.
Daniels said her son was an unarmed security guard for the business, and he worked there every day. She said she’d been inside First Reliable many times and there had never been any problems there.
She described her son as an outgoing, friendly man.
A man by the police tape wearing a blue baseball cap kept taking phone calls and had tears in his eyes. He said, “All I heard is my little cuz up in there dead.”
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said no one has called her office to complain about First Reliable.
“They weren’t on the City Attorney’s radar,” she said.
Bakersfield Chief Code Enforcement Officer Randy Fidler said there were no complaints against First Reliable other than one for overflowing trash.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who has long talked about thefts and other crimes associated with pot shops, said employees and owners of these businesses need to keep in mind that “the bad guys” know cash and drugs are kept inside the businesses.
He said the sheriff’s department has investigated robberies and internal thefts at pot shops, but there’s also crime associated with them that goes unreported because owners don’t want to broadcast how much money they make and are afraid of being prosecuted.
Youngblood was speaking generally, and said the BPD will determine the motive in this case.
“Again, it’s sad that anyone lost their lives,” Youngblood said. “It’s a bad deal.”
The Bakersfield City Council approved an ordinance in late June banning medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The ordinance takes effect Aug. 1.
Investigations regarding dispensaries will be initiated by complaints, and will likely involve both the city Code Enforcement Department and the police department. Code Enforcement will investigate zoning violations while police will determine whether a particular building houses a business where marijuana is sold.
After investigating a dispensary with a complaint against it, the city would then have to take the case to civil court.
Beard asked that anyone with information regarding the killings call the Bakersfield Police Department at 327-7111 or Detective Cox at 326-3514.