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2 marijuana dispensary workers killed hours apart; LAPD probes possible links [Updated]

Los Angeles Police Department detectives Friday morning were trying to determine whether there was any connection between two robberies hours apart Thursday at two medical marijuana dispensaries that left two employees dead.

The first robbery occurred at 4:15 p.m. on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The second at 9:15 p.m. a few miles away on El Centro Avenue in Hollywood. The killings come as Los Angeles authorities are in the process of cracking down on pot businesses, resulting in the closure of dozens of the outlets.

LAPD sources told The Times that detectives were looking at all possibilities, but stressed they were not sure if the two crimes were linked. The victims at both locations were shot, they said, but a knife might have also been used in one of them.

At the marijuana dispensary in Echo Park, one worker was killed and another was wounded. Officials said the store was ransacked. 

[Updated at 6:56 a.m.: The worker killed in the Echo Park shooting was identified Friday by the L.A. County coroner's office as Matthew Benjamin Butcher, 27, of Los Angeles.]

An unknown number of suspects stormed into the Higher Patch Holistic Care store at 1302 Sunset Blvd. In Hollywood, the employee was discovered dead in that store when someone entered the establishment. The shootings are sure to increase debate about medical marijuana businesses around L.A.

Critics say there are far too many and claim the businesses generate crime.

[Updated at 12:10 p.m.: Matt Butcher was the son of Julie Butcher, a well-known L.A. labor leader. Butcher’s mother described the killing as “totally senseless,” saying her son was simply trying to cobble together part-time jobs in a tough economy. “He was one of the most peaceful people,” said Julie Butcher, who works as a regional director of the Service Employees International Union Local 721. “He would have given them anything they wanted. There’s no reason for anyone to die over marijuana.”]

-- Andrew Blankstein, David Zahniser and Robert J. Lopez

Comments () | Archives (142)

These robbers are doing a better job of closing down the drug stores than the cops...

Sounds like it was planned.

It is absolutely absurd to claim that the perpetrators of these crimes would not have committed any crime had the dispensaries not existed. The perpetrators would not have been singing in the church choir or helping little old ladies cross the street except for the temptation put in their way by those who sell medical cannabis. Absolutely absurd on its face.

Liquor stores get robbed all the time. How come there isn't a debate about closing those up? OH THAT'S RIGHT, alcohol gets a pass and a double standard.

Legalize it, already. All that violence around alcohol stopped when it was legalized. Prohibition makes it more interesting, and adds violence. Pot will become a little boring when it's legal, but it will add to the state's coffers, and these stories will stop.

The crimes happened precisely because of Prohibition. If fully legalized the price would plummet and people would be free to have their own garden. RE-legalize it and robberies end.

There are robberies at banks...we should close them.

There are robberies at convenience stores....we should close them.

There are shootings at schools....we should close them.

There are shootings on freeways...we should close them.

Lets all just stay under our bed all day with a uniformed officer stationed outside our house earning overtime.

Business generates money not crime

im not buying it! the poweres that be are trying to shut down the dispensaries so the hire thugs to comment these horrible crimes...just like MLK ,john kenndy.

Of course. Legal marijuana threatens the drug cartels that are perpetuated by the government's stupid War on Drugs & Liberty in the first place.

Cracking down on legal marijuana dispensaries will guarantee the long-term welfare of the drug cartels - way to go!

if they just made it legal we wouldn't have this problem.

So you admit Alcohol is bad and adictive?

people get murdered for less all the time in LA just because it has to deal with pot its such a huge deal.. clerks get shot all the time you dont see them closing down shops because of that.. make it legal and the problem wouldnt be made into such a crisis

Legalize already. Look up the stats alcohol kills more than cannabis, yet it is strongly encouraged. I have never heard of a death linked directly to cannabis

Definitely sounds like it was planned. Liquor stores and pharmacies are robbed. Close banks. Also, close down all political offices. They seem to be endlessly involved in corruption and crimes. City Council probably hired the gunmen. Maybe they had the Cartel go in. God forbid anyone infringe on the Cartel's turf. California's broke, welfare cards are valid in casinos, and they have a war on something they can tax. That's a politician for you.

If it cost more than the dealers on the street then it's not really legalized enough to stop crime. I'd rather attempt to grow it for free before I screw someone else over about it SO these criminals are plain lazy. It has to be about money more than Marijuana by far. And the real issue is the downing of American labor/workers to that of a desperado ie. the real recession. McDonald's plays it's part in reducing most Americans down to a cheeseburger, with a phony smile. McDonald workers can't even afford their own junk food on a day off when they don't get the worker's discount and if they are not native they secretly feel like they've been taken advantage of with a secret grudge that could screw anybody over at any time over chicken poop. That's the real recession, American labor going to hell and never even came close to keeping up with inflation. $3.35/hr in 1992 was a lot more money than $10/hr today. SO then if the political purpose is to protect American labor and to keep prices down then the last two presidents did just opposite and rather kept themselves busy with anything else, so they could claim they were busy (doing things like building a school, good. Slave labor, bad).

I hope the IRS and State Tax Agencies are all over this business.

Some of the slime of our city visit these illicit locations, they should be banned, now. So, when you deal with dirt a little dirt comes back at you.
All legal drugs should be despensed through pharmacy's, only. All drugs should be packaged by state approved pharmacy wholesalers that are inspected.

whos to say this isnt a little government inside job to grease the wheels of getting rid of these things.

I am willing to bet somehow our government is involved in this becuase they want these places shut down.
I bet you that neither of the killers are brought to justice and that this was done in effert to support an agenda set forth by the far right.
Pathetic how low our government will go in order to do what they want to do...

Liquor stores and pharmacys get robbed all the time. The fact that marijuana was involved is an arbitrary point. Had the pot-shop had not been there, the criminals simply would have robbed someone else. They are criminals after all...


Two more casualties of the war on drugs. We're so stupid. So stupid.

Robberies and murders will end when pot is legalized? You've been smoking too much dope. Catch the killers and use them instead of innocent animals for experimentation purposes. Violent criminals must be destroyed, and removed from the gene pool.

Critic claim the businesses generate crime aye? well we have been making criminals out of people who chose to use pots for years, jails are full of inmates who's only crime is none of government's business in the first place. Drug use is a poor personal choice, but the real crime is that we spent billions on a so called war on drugs, an unnecessary and expensive war that we can not win nor afford. As many lives that were ruined by drugs were ruined by a drug related police record.
If you dont use drugs now, why would you start if they suddenly became decriminalized? You chose not use drugs but you dont allow others to make that choice for themselves, so you have to pay billions, incarcerate thousands of citizens, and make millionaires out of smugglers and gangsters.
If we use half the money we spend on the war on drug to help people get off of drugs we can save many lives and lots of money.

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