Merced County Sheriff pursuing more regulations on pot growers after shooting

Three suspects are now in custody for a triple shooting that left one man dead.

Sheriff Vern Warnke has been comparing this shooting to the wild west gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He said it all happened because of marijuana and now he wants the county to consider a permit process for anyone growing pot.

A blood stained street and bullet holes in three different houses remain as evidence of Tuesday's deadly shootout in the Beachwood area. Detectives believe the gunfire all started because of a drug deal gone bad at a home where marijuana was growing.

"Yesterday could have been a lot worse, only the players involved in the drug transaction were fortunately the quote unquote victims in this. There could have been kids walking around, at that time of day with that proximity to a school, they could have been walking home," said Warnke.

Deputies found one man's body along this curb and two others were driven to Mercy Medical Center in private cars. "One of those 2 individuals that had more serious injuries was flown to a Modesto hospital where he is undergoing treatment," said Sgt. Delray Shelton of the Merced County Sherifff's Office.

Just hours after the shooting, the S.W.A.T. team served a warrant at a home on north Highway 59. They recovered four guns and arrested three suspects."and we still have suspects outstanding," stated Warnke

Warnke says deputies had recently visited the home where the homicide happened to remove all but 12 of the pot plants there, because that's how many are allowed under the county's current ordinance. Now he plans to push for more regulations for anyone growing marijuana. "If they want to be in compliance they get a permit and register with the county so we can go make our checks on these things, and anything that's not registered with the county is going to be considered an illegal grow, and that's how I want to pursue this."

The Sheriff plans to talk to board members and county counsel about his permit idea, but that's just the first step in a potentially long process.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the people who were shot or the suspects they arrested Tuesday night.
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